40 personal finance lessons I've learned

By glblguy


A long time reader named Bobbi sent me an email recently. The email contained a list of 45 lessons that life taught Regina Brett, a 90 years old resident of Cleveland, Ohio. The list inspired me to share my own list of lessons, but from a personal finance perspective.

Of course I’ve learned far more than 40 lessons, and the list grows daily, but here’s the top 40 I’ve learned so far. Hope you enjoy and if you think it will help others, feel free to share.

  1. Mange your money, don’t let it manage you.
  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  3. Don’t pay minimums.
  4. If you can’t control your credit cards, get rid of them.
  5. Married? Manage your finances together.
  6. Involve your children in your finances, it may save their financial future.
  7. Just when you are starting to make good progress, something bad will happen.
  8. Have an emergency fund (see #7)
  9. Pay off your credit cards every month, or don’t use them.
  10. Don’t have just one income source, have many.
  11. Learn from the past, but don’t dwell on it.
  12. It’s okay to spend your money, just do so wisely.
  13. Save for retirement with your very first paycheck and never stop.
  14. Don’t keep up the Jones, it’s a race you’ll never win.
  15. If you purchased something and are afraid to tell your spouse, you shouldn’t have bought it.
  16. If you suddenly decide you need something you’ve never needed before, wait. See if you still need it tomorrow.
  17. Keep your finances simple. If you don’t, you won’t take the time to do them.
  18. Set short-term financial goals, achieve them and set new ones. Progress keeps you motivated.
  19. Set long-term financial goals and have a plan so you aren’t driving through life not knowing where you’re going.
  20. Remember, your current crisis most likely won’t be crisis a few years from now.
  21. Money is always available. Seek it out if you need it, don’t wait for it to find you.
  22. The last thing you’ll think on your death bed is that you should have worked more. Money helps, but there is so much more to life.
  23. No matter how bad you think your problems are, someone somewhere is worse off.
  24. Create and follow a budget. Even the biggest and most successful corporations do.
  25. Your biggest financial problem is you. Fix yourself first, then fix the rest.
  26. Always search for “deals“. Somebody, somewhere always has what you want for less.
  27. In most cases, buy used. Buying new makes great sense for the seller, and poor sense for you.
  28. Finance is personal. Who you are and what you believe have everything to do with how you manage your money.
  29. Give and you shall receive.
  30. Your children are the best investment you can ever make.
  31. Whatever you are planning to do, do today. You just might not be here tomorrow.
  32. Take calculated risks, otherwise you won’t grow.
  33. Financial planning isn’t just about your present life, but about the lives of your loved ones after you leave.
  34. There is no such thing as “good debt”.  Some debt is just a little better than others.
  35. Sacrifice in the short term to gain in the long.
  36. If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is.
  37. Measure twice, cut once. Always consider your actions at least twice before acting.
  38. Treat every bad situation as a test from God and pass the test.
  39. Read the Bible, you’ll be amazed what you can learn. Yes, even about personal finance.
  40. It’s okay to make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn.

How about you? What are some lessons you’ve learned?

Photo by: star5112

9 Responses (including trackbacks) to “40 personal finance lessons I've learned”

  1. The Weakonomist Says:

    I’m glad you point out that it’s ok to make mistakes. Some people strive for perfection and when something goes wrong they lose control. The same happens with weight loss, if you hit a plateau you start to lose hope of losing any more weight and that’s when mistakes start happening.

  2. Gina Says:

    Good post Gibble Guy!

  3. Marsha Says:

    Excellent list, very “back to basics,” which is what I need (and maybe a lot of other people, too). I am convinced that the current recession (depression?) is going to have a lasting effect on many people’s financial lives — in a good way — that is, when things get better, some people will continue to be financially smarter and frugal. Some won’t…but that’ll be their choice. I hope I’m smart enough to keep up the good habits!!

  4. MoneyEnergy Says:

    I like #20 and #25: Your biggest financial problem is you. Fix yourself first, then fix the rest.

    Know your purpose; then know what you need for your purpose. Then you can rule out wants from needs. In fact, probably much of our “want” spending might come down to the fact that we aren’t focused enough on what we really want, ie., our life’s purpose. Just something I just thought of. Not saying it’s easy or anything!

  5. Dramon Says:

    The only two things I would add:

    1. only worry about items you have some control over. A lot of time/effort/stress can occur when you worry about things which you have no control over. You have control over your income and your spending.

    2. Spending is about choices, they should be made consciously and thoughtfully. This goes along with waiting a day.

  6. DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad.com Says:

    Great list! A nice reminder of the right things . . .