I am sure you all have heard and read about the 50-30-20 rule which basically states to divide up after-tax income and allocate it to spend: 50% on needs, 30% on wants, and socking away 20% to savings.
The fundamental rule to personal finance is save more and spend less. Spend less than you earn and save enough for a rainy day and invest. Here are some of my favorite personal finance tips that I follow now and wish I would have known sooner.
1. Create a Simple Budget
This is the most easiest way to know where you are spending your money heavily. Allocate your earnings to different categories such as groceries, entertainment, savings, restaurants in a spreadsheet. Writing down and reflecting at your budget every day or weekly really helps.
Excel or google sheets have good budget templates for you to use. Even your credit card accounts show in a nice template how much money you are spending and saving.
2. Keep Track of your Debt
Write down all your current debt separately. Not only the total amounts, but interest rates, amount of the minimum payments, loan length, etc.
It helps you to organize what should be paid first, if and when you should make extra payments, and beyond.
3. LBYM, or “live below your means.”
A very simple concept yet very hard to follow sometimes isn't it? If you have a limited salary and high debt, by no means should you be upgrading to a brand new car, getting an expensive apartment, going out to eat every day, etc.
It's okay to occasionally eat outside or go for a vacation but try to get discounts on hotels, see if there are any happy hours or weekday special going on at a restaurant so that you can enjoy your meal as well as spend less. Be proactive and be aware of your expenses.
Its fine to repeat a dress, to cook at home, to get a dvd and watch that movie at home. Remember this is your journey so don't listen to your friends who call you extra frugal. they won't be there to pay off your loan.
Hence, surround yourself by like-minded people who are good at their finances and learn from them.
4. Read. Learn. Repeat
Read at least for 2-4 hours weekly about personal finance and finance in general. Read about stocks and investments, what's current in the market.
Keep a checking and savings account separate. It is so important to keep these two accounts separate so you can keep a tab on your savings. Make sure to maximize your 401K- this is the most easiest and best way to save money for retirement and utilize the price matching from your company to the max.
Pro Tip- I put my one pay-cheque (In USA, we get biweekly paycheque), directly into my savings every month, basically half of my paycheque goes into my savings no matter what. I pay my bills from the other half and take care of my wants later and the rest goes into my savings/investments (Brokerage account, Roth IRA etc.) too.
5. Make More Money.
Easy to say than do, I know. Even though, you are budgeting and spending less, at some point you will hit a wall. You need to ask for that promotion, for a higher pay or change the job to make more money.
Find ways to increase your skills, take on more, learn in your spare time. Ask for a raise, know your career worth, and hustle to get the salary you deserve. It won’t be easy, but it’s necessary.
Sometimes, getting that raise could be hard or time-consuming and that's okay, you can still start a side hustle.
Think of selling things on eBay, shopify, etsy or cutting grass, delivering groceries, etc. You can tutor in math, science, painting etc. Whatever it is, this extra cash can help you save more and pay the debt down faster.
6. Invest. Invest. Invest.
I cannot stress enough that you need to start investing your money ASAP. That money in your savings or FD account is not multiplying as quickly as it is supposed to. Learn about stocks, get an investment account (Its free and the banks provide education too for beginners stocks). Think long term, don't play risky while starting out, invest in growth funds that are a definite way to multiply your money in next 10-20 years.
Think of getting another investment property and rent it that will pay off your loan and after some years you will have rental property to your name. Be smart about your investments.