These tips are not numbered, by the way, because I'm not ranking them. But I'd love to know what your opinions are: In the comments section, let me know which ones you think are the best of the best.
Gail Vaz-Oxlade, Personal Blog. One of the best ways to cope with life's constant financial challenges is to have a "curveball account." This is not your emergency fund, which you need for major disasters. This is a slush fund from which you can draw when unexpected expenses come whizzing at you at 60 miles an hour and you don't want to throw your budget totally off track. Whether you stuff your curveball account with $500 or $1,500, it can be a real budget-saver. The next time you save 50 cents on a coupon or $15 buying something on sale, deposit those savings in your curveball account.
Patrick Curtis, Wall Street Oasis. Don't get greedy. If you've been lucky enough to ride this wave up in stocks over the last five years, now is the time to start protecting yourself for a possible correction. This doesn't mean you have to sell out of all your best gainers -- LinkedIn (LNKD), Tesla (TSLA), Chipotle (CMG), to name a few -- since it's hard to predict how much is left in this bull market, but it does mean that you can put on some trailing stops on your biggest winners to ensure you are taking at least some chips off that table with a 5 percent to 10 percent drop.
Ben Edwards, Money Smart Life. Typically when we think of investing, the first thing that comes to mind is putting money into a stock, exchange-traded fund, bond or mutual fund. Another investment you can make that's crucial to your future earnings is investing in your own skills. These days you don't have to drop tens of thousands of dollars to go to school. Online education platforms like Pluralsight, Lynda, Skillshare and Quistic are making it easier and more affordable than ever for you to learn new skills on your own time and at your own pace. Even if you don't have the money for training, there are new companies like Upstart who will fund your learning in return for a portion of your future earnings. So be sure to include investing in yourself as part of your long term investment planning.
Kristie Sawicki, Saving Dollars and Sense. Track all of your spending. Keep a list of everything you spend money on each day, and at the end of the week or month sit down and evaluate where you can eliminate unnecessary spending. Several times a year, we call our insurance, cell and cable companies to negotiate lower rates. I always look for a sale or coupon and never pay full price. It's a good practice to regularly evaluate your spending and trim the fat wherever possible. Take the money you were spending on extras and use it to start getting rid of debt.
Robert Farrington, The College Investor. I'm a big believer in automation to make saving and investing easy. You can automate most of your financial life to save time, but also make sure you're on track. Set up direct deposit, leverage online bill pay and make sure you're taking advantage of a 401(k) if offered. Automating your finances is the key to simplicity and wealth.
Jeffrey Strain, Saving Advice. Actually take the time to sit down to figure out your life goals. Having a goal of earning $1 million misses the point if you don't have a solid foundation of knowing exactly what you want to do with that $1 million. Far too many people still believe that "having money" is the goal, when in reality money is nothing more than a tool to help you reach your true life goals. The great thing is that once you know what your life goals are, it's much easier to get your finances in order and meet your financial goals.
Rob Berger, The Dough Roller. Start investing today. Don't wait. It's easy to do, and doesn't require a lot of money. Even $25 a month invested in a low cost index fund in a 401(k) is a great start. If you don't have a 401(k) and can't meet the minimums at a mutual fund company, open an account at Betterment. However you do it, start investing now.
Travis Pizel, Enemy of Debt. My wife and I completed our journey to pay off $109,000 of credit card debt in January of this year. When our finances finally hit a breaking point in 2009, our situation felt hopeless because we didn't know what options were available to get our lives back on track. The first step to financial recovery is to investigate all the possible debt relief options -- including debt consolidation, debt management, debt settlement, bankruptcy and even the good old-fashioned roll up your sleeves and do it yourself method. Once fully educated on the options, a person can make an informed decision as to what the best course of action is for them.
"FMF," Free Money Finance. If you're an average American, you'll earn more than $2 million during your career. Awesome, right? But there's even better news: you can make your multimillion-dollar career asset worth even more. In fact, you can make it worth millions more. How? With focused, dedicated effort over time, you can get more and higher raises, all of which can add hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions) to your lifetime earnings. Have doubts? Just compare what a person starting at $25,000 income with 3 percent raises makes over 40 years compared to a person who averages 4 percent raises. The difference is over half a million dollars.
Fitz Gerard Villafuerte, Ready to be Rich. Wealth and happiness is relative. Never count your achievements against others, and anchor your goals on other people's measure of success. If you do this, you'll only be disappointed. Wealth is not a specific number in your bank account; it is defined by your ability to afford your dreams. Happiness is not a simple destination; it is a cycle of experiences that you pursue throughout your life. To have both requires using money as a tool -- a means that provide the necessary time, resources, mobility and access that allows you to invest in memories and life experiences.
Haven't read the other articles yet? Check them out:
- Our Favorite Personal Finance Bloggers Share Their Best Tips
- 10 More Top Tips from Our Favorite Personal Finance Bloggers