Stay on top of your budget, spending and debt with common-sense lessons from 11 savvy financial bloggers
These financial experts share their secrets on deals, paying off mortgages, shopping, banking and more!
"My dad always said you should try to earn money while you sleep. You can generate income by contributing to a workplace retirement
plan, an IRA or a taxable brokerage account. Invest 15 percent of your gross income. If you start when you're young, setting
aside just $50 a week can give you close to a million dollars for retirement."
—Laura Adams, smartmovestogrowrich.com
"The biggest lesson I learned from being $10,000 in debt? I had to be willing and able to take care of myself. The first step
was I found 26 ways —one for each letter of the alphabet—either to cut down on or eliminate spending. My ideas ranged from
comparison-shopping and using more coupons to adjusting my haircut schedule (from every four weeks to every six). Within two
years, I was able to pay off the debt."
—Nancy Munro, nancymn.wordpress.com
"The best advice I ever got was to go easy on myself when I didn't get the absolute lowest price. Missed the best deal? The
next time you'll compare more. Forgot your coupons at home? Let that be a lesson to keep them in your purse or car. If you berate yourself or obsess over every misstep, you
waste valuable time and energy. There will always be another deal or another way to save right around the corner."
—Abigail Perry, ipickuppennies.net
"My wife and I were $18,000 in consumer debt when our daughter was born in 2008. We decided to embrace a minimalist attitude
toward our finances. We started using a 30-day list. Try it: The next time you want a tech gadget or a new purse, write it
down along with the date. Thirty days later, revisit the list and ask yourself, 'Do I really need this?' Today we are out
of debt, and we don't buy anything without really thinking it through."
—Adam Baker, manvsdebt.com
"I've learned that couples who openly discuss money seem to be more connected and have more respect for each other than couples
who don't. I have seen couples who keep separate bank accounts eventually get to the point where they even sleep in separate
bedrooms. Make it a priority to sit down together with your spouse at least once a month for a 'money huddle' to talk through
your household finances."
—Bethany Palmer, themoneycouple.com
"One year as Christmas approached, my younger brother and I had a particularly severe case of 'I want.' Every day we let our
mother know about yet another toy that Santa just had to bring us. After days of listening, Mom finally had enough. 'That's
going to cost a lot of money,' she said. 'What does that matter? Santa will bring it all,' we told her. Not missing a beat,
she informed us, 'Santa sends a bill to me and your father.' Oh. That made a difference. There was a price to pay, even on
Dec. 25. We learned to prioritize our wants. And you know what? That Christmas was just as merry as any other. We still believed
in Santa and learned an important life skill."
—Kay Bell, bankrate.com and dontmesswithtaxes.typepad.com
"My grandpa constantly told my dad, 'Never go into debt for anything—except a house.' My dad followed that advice, then he took it one step further. My parents paid off their house,
saved aggressively, sold that house and moved us into a rundown trailer for seven months while we built a home in the country
debt-free! After eight years of hard work and saving, my husband and I paid cash for our house in 2010.
—Crystal Paine, moneysavingmom.com
"As a stay-at-home mom to three young children, I have had to learn to live a frugal life. In 2007 my husband and I were $37,000
in debt. We decided enough was enough, and we sat down to hammer out a budget. We also resolved to always shop with cash.
When you use cash exclusively, you cannot overspend, because you have only a set amount of money in your pocket. The strategy
also opens the door to negotiating for appliances and other big-ticket items. Sticking to our budget helped us completely
eliminate our debt in 27 months."
—Tracie Fobes, pennypinchinmom.com
"After I paid off the last of my divorce-related debt, I decided to automate my savings. After all, if I didn't have access
to it, I couldn't spend it. An online savings bank now takes a set amount from my checking account every month. I'm so excited
to watch my savings grow that I look for other ways to boost the balance. I sometimes forgo an indulgence—do I really need
to buy pizza when there are leftovers in the fridge?—and add that money to my savings. It adds up, and I no longer have to
make excuses for why I'm having trouble saving money."
—Donna Freedman, donnafreedman.com
"I'm a big bargain hunter, but one lesson I've learned is that cheaper is not always better. A few years ago I paid $90 for
a new pair of sunglasses. Extravagant, yes, but they were high-quality frames that fit my face like a dream. I easily could
have purchased multiple cheaper sunglasses for the same amount during the past three years, but I wear the $90 pair almost
every day, and they're still going strong. My initial investment was worth it."
—Tara Kuczykowski, dealseekingmom.com
"When I was a kid, my mom worked at home as the bookkeeper for my father's neighborhood newspaper. I was probably 9 or 10
when she 'hired' me to do office tasks, like stuffing and stamping envelopes. She insisted on paying me minimum wage—far more
than I earned baby-sitting. But my mom explained what minimum wage was and why my skills were worth it. That gave me my first
sense of my own value. It also helped me learn to earn and save. Those lessons have stayed with me."
—M.P. Dunleavey, editor in chief, dailyworth.com