Top 5 Favorite Money and Personal Finance Blogs

Top 5 Favorite Money and Personal Finance Blogs

Here are my top 5 favorite money and personal finance blogs that I not only read myself, but recommend you read on a regular basis to learn all you can about handling your money. I don’t agree with everything these bloggers say about money, but for the most part they give a lot of good advice and have some fantastic ideas and tips you may have never read anywhere else.

Top 5 Money and Personal Finance Blogs

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1. Two Cents from Lifehacker: Though not strictly a money blog, Lifehacker deals with ideas that make your life easier and more productive. The Two Cents section includes tips on how to handle your money and posts to better explain personal finance. The best part about Two Cent’s tips is that they are most often garnered from other sources—websites and blogs to whom they always give credit and link love. This is how I’ve found many of the personal finance blogs I read on a regular basis.

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2. The Simple Dollar: This blog not only provides advice on the usual personal finance topics such as frugality and budgeting, it also provides several “best of” guides such as the Best Tax Software and Best Home Insurance.

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3. Listen Money Matters: A collaborative website with articles written by experts across many disciplines related to personal finance, as well as a regular podcast. You’ll also find several courses on topics such as Preparing for Retirement, Meeting Your Career Goals, and Family Finances.

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4. Ramsey Personalities: I’m cheating a bit here and lumping all of these great blogs together because they’re all part of the Ramsey Personalities team. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know I’m a Dave Ramsey disciple and for good reason—he’s America’s authority on dumping debt and family finance. Dave’s daughter, Rachel Cruze, has carved out her niche helping teens, college students, and young adults get their financial lives started well. Chris Hogan has become a leading authority on retirement issues, especially as someone who encourages people to dream big and plan well. And Christy Wright is an expert on entrepreneurship, with special emphasis on helping women thrive in business.

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5. SeedTime: Formerly known as ChristianPF (i.e. personal finance) started out as one man’s personal blog about what he’d learned about Biblical personal finance when he came to financial breaking point. This blog has now been read by millions, and he’s made it his mission to help people learn how to make, save, grow, and give money—from a Christian point of view.

Honorable Mentions

There are dozens and dozens of great personal finance blogs and sites out there. I could have easily made a Top 10 list. Two other sites I read fairly regularly are Get Rich Slowly and My Wife Quit Her Job.

What are some of your favorite money and personal finance blogs? Please share in the comments below.

Save Money By NOT Ordering Online

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I was recently reading a Consumerist article about the reasons why some people tend to spend a lot more money when ordering a pizza online versus via phone or in person. The article focused on primarily social reasons—that we tend to let our personal gluttonous tendencies flourish when we don’t feel that we’ll be judged for them. In the case of ordering online, there’s no one on the other end of the phone or behind the counter who can say in their head, “You really want 25 toppings on your pizza?”

Now while I get that’s likely one of the factors involved—the idea that we can order whatever we want without judgment through an impersonal device—I also think there’s an issue of budgetary awareness that is at play as well. Dave Ramsey teaches people to use cash as often as possible so that they can feel the money they’re spending—the concept that physically handing over a $20 bill is harder than simply swiping a card.

This can be magnified when purchasing online. The wonders of technology have made it possible to order pretty much anything you can think of and have it delivered right to your door. It’s easy to get caught up ordering more and more stuff without considering the financial consequences because it’s just so darn convenient.

But online shopping is an area of personal finance where we need to be all the more diligent with our choices so that we don’t break our budgets. Online shopping at the least should offer us the convenience at the same price as a local store, and at best it should offer savings on top of that convenience.

Convenience

Be aware of the fact that you’re going to often pay a premium for some products purchases online. You see this most often in non-physical goods such as movie and concert tickets. It’s really tempting to pre-order your movie tickets online to make sure you get seats to that hot new movie—but you’ll pay a premium for the privilege.

We excuse these expenditures by saying, “Time is money.” Well, that’s fine, but when you’re deep in debt or working hard toward a financial goal, why not invest a little “sweat equity” and spend the time it takes to drive to the movie theater early and pick up your tickets in person? Sure, for some things like concerts or sporting events that sell out quickly, you can’t wait until you get to the venue to buy tickets—not to mention some events are not sold exclusively online. That’s fine, just be sure to budget for the extra expense.

Awareness

As above, awareness of how much you’re spending and why should remain at the forefront of your mind. It’s far too easy to log onto Amazon and add some stuff to your cart and click “Buy Now.” Like me, many of you have an Amazon account with your payment information stored so that you can have products on their way to you in one simple click.

There’s nothing wrong with this. My family has probably saved hundreds of dollars buying from Amazon and other online sources, but it was only through purpose and intentionality that we did so. It would be really easy to add a bunch of stuff we want to a cart and hit the buy button and persuade ourselves we saved money because we have Prime free two-day shipping. But have we really saved anything if we bought things we didn’t need or had budgeted for?

Savings

Ultimately, with particular exceptions, your online shopping should save you money. If you can’t get something less expensive than purchasing it at a local store, then why bother buying online? Don’t get caught in the trap of convenience.

Not only should you be comparison shopping what’s available online against local in-store prices, you should be comparison shopping online. Check around for special deals and coupon codes to see if you can get a better price than what’s being offering at your usual online shopping stops. Learn to be patience and give yourself a day or two to dig deep and find the best deal you can get.

The Road to Awesome—Available Now On Amazon

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I’m happy to officially announce the release of my first full-length Incremental Life-related book, The Road to Awesome: 99 Ways to Upgrade Your Life

This book is the culmination of over three years of dreaming and almost a year of writing. Themes commonly found here on TheIncrementalLife.com are interwoven throughout the volume as I focus on relating practical and timely ideas to help you build discipline, get your life in order, and step toward achieving your goals and dreams.

 

ABOUT THE ROAD TO AWESOME

UPGRADE YOUR FINANCES, WORK, HOME, COMMUNITY, AND FAITH:

What is The Road to Awesome? It’s the road that takes you from where you are now to where you want to really be in life. It’s the road that leads you from an average, mediocre, status-quo experience toward a life that is extraordinary. It’s time to break out of your comfort zone and be honest with yourself.

Maybe life’s not all that you once dreamed it could be, but it’s probably an adequate life. You’ve grown comfortable with going along to get along, yet you still feel discontent stirring down deep in your soul. Does fear hold you back? The fear of change? The fear of loss? The fear of looking foolish?

Maybe you lack direction. Perhaps you want to change but don’t know where to start or what to shoot for. Your hopes have turned into idle wishes, so now you spend your days waiting for some outside force to step in and change everything for you.

Stand up, push past your fears, allow yourself to be uncomfortable, and start setting goals backed with plans of action.

The Road to Awesome is filled with practical ideas—99 ways you can upgrade your life. The Road to Awesome focuses on your self, your money, your work, your family, your community, and the lynchpin of it all—your faith.

Get passionate, work hard, sacrifice, be faithful, and get the results you want out of life.

Click here to get The Road to Awesome: 99 Ways to Upgrade Your Life from Amazon today!

 

TIL-3D-trimmedBONUS: Purchase of The Road to Awesome entitles you a free download of The Incremental Life Planner—Complete Edition. You’ll find the details about how to claim your free download on the final page of the book.

Click here to learn more about The Incremental Life Planner.

10 Things You Should Never Buy at Full Price

10 Things You Should Never Buy at Full Price

Part of getting the most out of your finances is by making your money work for you. Your income is your most powerful wealth-building tool—far more powerful than any investment plan you might implement. Why? Because you have the power to decide how and where you spend your money.

This means becoming discerning about how you spend that income. One of the core principles is to never pay full price for certain products.

What do I mean when I say full price? I’m not particularly referring to products that are on sale or available at some sort of discount. Those are great ideas and fantastic methods for saving money, but that’s not the issue here.

Rather, full price refers to paying top dollar for certain types of products. Many families pay far too much money for items because they tend to shop exclusively at particular stores rather than looking for the best deal available. Other families lose money through an insistence on purchasing only name brand products or refusing to consider used alternatives.

10 Things You Should Never Buy at Full Price

1. Glasses and Contact Lenses
My family has been purchasing glasses online for several years now. I recommend using Zenni Optical for your eyeglass needs. Don’t waste money buying expensive glasses through your optometrist when you can get the same or better quality for less. Not only are my Zenni alternatives the least expensive glasses I’ve ever purchased, they’re also the best quality and longest-lasting. For contacts, check out the offerings at places such as the Walmart Vision Center, Walgreens.com, and VisionDirect.com.

2. Clothing
Unless you’re looking for something specific, there’s no need to pay the high prices at department and specialty stores. Shop at discount stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, and Burlington Coat Factory. I you know how well a certain brand fits your body, you can take the risk of shopping online for better deals than local stores. I’ve bought Asics shoes from 6pm.com with great success.

3. Food
Groceries are one of the single largest avoidable financial drains on many families. Not only should you avoid overspending through meal planning, couponing, and sticking to your shopping list, but you should also refuse to pay for name brands. Yes, personal taste is an issue, and some name brands do taste better, but in most cases you won’t notice the difference. Purchase generics and store brands when possible, and shop at discount groceries stores such as ALDI. You’ll save a ton of money over the course of a year.

4. Automobiles
There’s almost no justification for taking on a new car payment. So many families dig themselves deeper into debt with the excuse, “Well, we can afford the monthly payment.” That’s the wrong way to handle personal finance. Sure, your current income may be able to support car payments, but what if you suddenly lost your job, were disabled, or had a major emergency. Wouldn’t you be better off if several hundred dollars of income per month weren’t locked into a car payment? Better yet, imagine what you could do if you bought a used car with cash—you could pay down debt, or save a lot of money for college and retirement.

5. Online Purchases
Before purchasing almost anything, see if you can save money by shopping online instead. It’s not always practical, but you can get the vast majority of products online for less these days—including some food and household goods. My family does this via Amazon’s Subscribe & Save service for product we can order in bulk at regular intervals. When it comes to consumer goods, it pays to dig a little deeper and search for discount codes before clicking the purchase button.

6. Restaurants
Eating out can be a big money-waster, but you can spend money smartly by limiting your restaurant visits to special occasions and looking for the best deal you can get. Find out when the restaurants in your area have their midweek specials or kids eat free nights. You can also check restaurant websites for special coupons, or take a look on Restaurant.com for deals. You might also check out Groupon, Amazon Local, and Living Social for specials as well.

7. Insurance
You should never, ever buy insurance without looking for the best deal you can get. This is primarily concerning non-health insurances since those are often tied to your employment. Find a reputable broker in your area who will shop around for the best deal available from all the insurance companies. If you’re not sure who to use, poll your local friends on Facebook and find out which insurance broker they use. For most of your insurance needs, I recommend you take a look at Zander Insurance.

8. Books, Music, and Movies
I’m sure you know there are digital versions for consumable media nowadays at a significant cost savings in comparison to the physical counterparts. I understand digital versions don’t always offer the same experience (books), yet digital can be higher quality while being both more portable and less expensive. Keep in mind you don’t need a specialized device for any of these files. Any computer can open most formats whether the file is a book, song, or movie. You can save quite a bit of money by purchasing adapters to hook up your computer to your TV for streaming rather than buying a device or smart TV.

If you still want physical copies, or what you want isn’t available digitally, then your best option is to find it used. Many cities have locally owned used bookstores or a chain like Half Price Books. These stores sell more than books alone, they often have great DVD and CD selections, and even vinyl for any audiophiles who want that vintage sound. You can also look online for inexpensive alternatives. Start at Amazon, but also look at sites such as thriftbooks.com, abebooks.com, addall.com, and many others that offer print books and other used physical media at steep discounts.

9. Cleaning Products
Though this takes a bit of work on your part, look into the possibility of making your own cleaners. Check the prices at your local stores for cleaning products such as laundry detergent and spray cleaners, and then find some recipes for similar cleaners online. See if purchasing the components you need to mix up your own versions would come out to be less expensive than store bought versions. Quite often cleaning products can be made at home from very basic and inexpensive ingredients such as vinegar, baking powder, and ammonia.

10. Furniture
You can save a gigantic wad of cash and avoid more monthly payments by purchasing less expensive furniture options. If you’re open to the idea, check Facebook for local garage sale groups. My family has picked up some really nice furniture (solid wood!) for pennies on the dollar. Look for discount stores such as Big Lots and insurance salvage outlets for big savings as well.

What do you think about this list? Any items you’d like to add or suggest? Anything you disagree with? Please share in the comments.