What I appreciate about personal finance bloggers is that they don't just talk the talk; they walk the walk. In fact, they offered so much good advice, I had to divide their answers up into three articles. Parts two and three will be coming Friday and Saturday. (Once they're all published, I'll link between them at the ends of each article.) In the comments section, let me know which advice you think is the best of the best.
Crystal Paine, MoneySavingMom. A very simple way to cut your spending is to get comfortable asking for a discount. My philosophy is that you never want to short-change someone, but it doesn't hurt to politely ask. The worst they can say is "no." Many stores are happy to give a discount on groceries that are close to the expiration date. Just ask. Think about using this tactic on staples your family uses every day -- like milk. If you're a member at a local gym or other club, and it's something you regularly use, ask them if they have any discount opportunities. If you volunteer once a month or help with a project, you might be able to get a sizable discount.
Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers. My best tip on personal finance is to spend less than you make. It sounds like a rather simple strategy, but most folks don't use it. The best way to achieve that goal is to use an online budgeting service such as Mint and use it to compare your income to your overall monthly spending. If you're spending more than you make, you need to reduce what you pay for monthly bills and cut back on how much you spend on personal purchases. Once that's done, start setting aside your surplus for your long-term financial goals like retirement or a college fund for your children.
Tracie Fobes, Penny Pinchin' Mom. My best personal finance tip is to use cash and an envelope budget. It may seem old-school, but getting cash and using that for your day to day spending can actually help you gain better control of your finances. Create envelopes for each category and track your spending by writing it down each time you make a purchase. By doing so, you can not only see where your money goes, you will also know how much you have left to spend. When the money is gone -- you are done spending. This forces you to be accountable to yourself.
Luke Landes, Consumerism Commentary. Start paying attention. Self-awareness is the first step when it comes to improving any part of your life, and your finances are no different, whether you want to get out of debt or achieve financial independence. Take an inventory, know your financial net worth, and track your income and spending. Spend some time evaluating your situation and stop ignoring your financial problems. Only when you recognize and address the issues that hold you back will you be able to build a stronger financial future.
Jeff Rose, Good Financial Cents. Don't fall victim to the "entitlement syndrome." If you've found yourself saying, "I deserve [something]
J. Money, Rockstar Finance. One of my favorite tips is to simply "take action." We get so caught up with thinking and researching and deciding on how to better our lives -- both financially and otherwise -- that often times we end up doing absolutely nothing because of analysis paralysis. So take a few seconds and decide on something right here and now, and then go and get started. You can always tweak things as time goes on (nothing's ever permanent), but at least you'll be that much closer to your future goals. You can't have a different future if you don't change something today.
Jeremy Biberdorf, Modest Money. Don't let your circumstances dictate your financial success. It's easy to sit back and say you won't get ahead because your employer rarely gives raises or your expenses are always going to be too high. Really though, people can almost always find ways to spend less and earn more. Tackle both sides at once for maximum success. Start tracking your expenses and set budgeting goals. Then think of how you could either get a higher-paying job or how you can develop a secondary source of income. Your free time doesn't have to go to watching TV.
Melissa Garcia, Consumer Queen. When planning a vacation, always check sites like Expedia or CheapOAir.com to find the best rates. You can save $80 to $100 on airfare just by flying midweek. The best travel dates are to fly in on a Wednesday and fly out on a Tuesday. Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually good days to find special airfare deals as well. You can also take advantage of special travel rewards. Hotels.com has a special loyalty club that when you book 10 nights through them, you get one free. I also take advantage of all airline frequent flyer miles.
David Weliver, Money Under 30. Humans are irrational. Don't trust yourself to make the best financial decisions. If you can postpone making a big purchase, do it. Half the time you'll decide you didn't need it. Whenever you can automate things, do that, too. Split your paycheck so at least 10 percent goes into savings. Purchase mutual fund shares on a regular basis instead of trying to pick the next hot stock. And when you amass a modest nest egg, enlist a financial adviser. If nothing else, he or she will ensure you don't wire your money to a Nigerian prince when you get old and vulnerable.
Kyle Taylor, The Penny Hoarder. Pay for everything using a gift card. You can purchase gift cards for 5 percent to 25 percent off their face value on websites like Raise.com and Cardpool.com. It's an instant way to save on everything from your groceries to the gas station to your favorite clothing store. Plus, if you use your rewards credit card to purchase the gift card, you'll start to rack up some massive savings without having to change any of your shopping habits.
Robert Pagliarini is a national expert on sudden wealth. His wealth management firm has developed a unique process for handling the financial -- and often psychological -- issues of sudden wealth from inheritance, lottery, divorce, stock options, lawsuits, and sports/entertainment contracts. Connect with him on Twitter @rpagliarini or Google Plus.