Everything can’t be about peer lending and personal finance is a big part of using peer loans responsibly. I’ve included the best PF blog posts I’ve seen over the last week. For most of the posts, I’ve included a summary list of the suggestions provided but left out a few ideas to not steal too much of their thunder. Click through the link to the original article and be sure to share.
Jessica offers 5 great tips for finding new toys for the kids without wasting money on the MoneyNing blog. This is something my wife and I have talked a lot about lately, planning our Christmas shopping for our two-year old. Over the last year, he has ignored most of the toys he has and has played with a discarded BBQ box more than anything.
- Discount toys online from sites like CouponPal.com and RetailMeNot.com can be found for great prices if you plan ahead for the shipping
- Giving gifts that will last like sports gear and games can outlast your kid’s interest and be donated later
- Another idea that I had never considered is renting toys, will have to check that one out
Pauline offers a five-step plan for getting out of debt on her blog Reach Financial Independence.
- Assess – Evaluate – Plan starts with a detailed budget including listing out the interest rates on all your debts. Everyone talks about making a budget and sticking to it but how many actually do? My suggestion, set goals that you can achieve and commit to following your budget for just three months. If you can make it that long, you’ll have formed good habits that will last.
- Setting realistic goals is super important. Prioritize your debt and what you want to achieve. Set multiple goals at different levels of difficulty so achieving some will motivate you to reach for the tough stuff.
- Paying off your balances from high to low. It makes sense to pay off the debts with the highest rate first. If the rates on your debt are not so different, try listing your accounts from smallest to largest and paying off the smaller ones first. You might pay slightly more in interest this way but watching those debts fall off the list is really motivating.
SB offers ten smart tips to staying frugal. I would consider myself a pretty frugal person, I would even go so far as to proclaim myself the king cheapskate at times, but some of the tips were new to me.
- Instead of budgeting your expenses then saving around that, why not start from deducting your savings from your salary then budgeting your expenses around how much is left. It’s a great idea to help make sure you are saving every month.
- Store brands may be great for perishables but buying quality can save you money for the things that will last a while. I don’t know how many cheap pairs of shoes I went through before I realized I could spend about 50% more for quality and have the shoes for three times as long.
- Don’t carry your credit cards regularly and only carry the amount of cash you need for daily items. The wife and I only carry pre-paid cash cards when we go holiday shopping. It helps keep us from going over budget
Stefanie shares 16 of her favorite shopping apps, many of which were new to me. I wouldn’t imagine trying to use all of these but try out a few in your weekly shopping routine. The wife and I have found huge savings from just using a few regularly.
- Favado is a great app to compare groceries and drug store purchases and will let you know when your local store has a sale.
- RetailMeNot is probably the most popular coupon site with more than 500,000 coupons across a network of more than 50,000 stores
- Ebates is a good app for getting cash back on your purchases and other rewards
Kristina talks through her 2014 goals and offers some great tips on achieving your savings goals for the next year.
- Saving continuously is a lot easier than making it something like an occasional punishment. Again, once you’ve stuck something out for three months it becomes a habit and is much easier to do naturally.
- Keep an emergency fund – Kristina suggests three to six months which is what I usually tell people. It’s tough to have that cash just sitting there making little to no interest but you really need to keep it in something absolutely safe and that won’t lose its value in a market crash.
- Prioritize your goals and your savings – I know a lot of people that get excited about saving and planning at the beginning of each year. They set huge goals and then get burnt out by April. Set reasonable goals and prioritize so you can make it through the year.
The freelancers out there will appreciate Alexa’s advice on not following some of the most common pitfalls. One of the most common pitfalls is a focus on the money and a lot of bloggers drop great clients because they are not the highest-paid contracts. Alexa didn’t follow this advice and it really paid off for her. Sometimes the relationship is worth more than the short-term benefits of a little more money. The long-term relationship builds trust and it’s a lot easier working with people you know. You’ll also be on the top of the list when those people need extra services and are able to pay top dollar.
I plan on running these weekly personal finance tips every Thursday. I can’t read all the blogs so let me know if you find a good piece of news or an article that needs to be shared.