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There’s no shortage of great personal finance advice out there. The problem is figuring out whether or not it applies to you.
“Personal finance is personal before it’s financial,” Talaat McNeely told me during an interview earlier this year. McNeely is the co-founder of the site His and Her Money, which he runs with his wife, Tai. I’ve found this idea to be a helpful way to think about your finances and life in general.
There is no single tip or money hack that will instantly change your life. But some principles and concepts can put you on the path to achieving your goals. You’ll just need to figure out a way to apply them to your unique situation.
Here are the most impactful lessons I’ve learned during my time as a personal finance reporter, and how I’ve applied them to my life. These tools and concepts helped my wife and me set aside over $20,000 to pay off student loans (once interest resumes next year), build our emergency fund, and feel less stressed about our financial future.
A good budget should manage not only your expenses but also your emotional relationship with money.
5 Things I Learned as a Personal Finance Reporter
Since launching NextAdvisor in the middle of the pandemic, our biggest priority has been sharing actionable advice readers can use right away in their daily lives. In the course of fulfilling this mission, we’ve learned quite a lot about ourselves.
Here are four personal finance concepts my wife and I have incorporated into our everyday approach to finances, plus one strategy we plan to use when we are ready to buy a house.
1. Budgeting Is About More Than Just Managing Money
For years my budget was a homemade spreadsheet I updated sporadically in hopes of becoming a young Warren Buffet. It rarely worked as well as I wanted. In theory, my budget should have turned me into the ultimate saver. But what frequently happened was: I’d update it once a month only to find out I’d overspent on eating out. And it wasn’t helping me feel any less stressed about money.
One of the first stories I wrote for NextAdvisor was about creating a budget, and that is where I discovered zero-based budgeting (ZBB). Once my wife and …….