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Financial Principles to Live By


Financial Literacy Principle 1:
“It’s not what you make but what you keep that determines financial success. Pay yourself first and save what you pay yourself.” Holger Spiewak

As I’ve begun stalking influencers and job contacts on LinkedIn this week, I saw this quote and it stuck. We all know that I have really SUCKED at managing my money for most of my life, hence my what almost four year presence on this site as I continue to try to dig out and learn to do better.

The Next Generation

We have got to teach our children better. I saw another quote from someone how with the same sentiment…”why aren’t we taught this in school?” Sea Cadet is currently taking a Personal Finance class at the local community college. And while I haven’t dug into the curriculum, I have eye-balled it, and it is primarily math, not principles like the one above.

I want to do better with my kids. And I am in some ways, they’ve been managing their money for some time as you can read about here and here. Tell me what are your go to Financial Principles that you think should be taught not only in the home but also in the school. I realize the bulk of financial training is done at home, but let’s be honest, a good deal of children will never receive any money training from their parents because they never had any themselves.

Financial Principles to Live By

Tell me what are your Financial Principles that you live by or like me, you wish you lived by a lot longer than you have. And my second question is, do you have an example of someone who exemplifies that principle to you?  Books? Blogs? Articles? I am craving to improve myself, craving more information.

Other great articles to pick up lessons from:


  • Reply Cheryl |

    The best advice and principles I learned were from my dh. Never buy what you cant afford. We bought our home, our car’s, even our kids college choice which we could afford at that time. We haven’t gone on a weeks vacation for years. My dh is retiring soon and we will travel then. I don’t get all this ” I deserve a vacation I can’t afford, a home I can’t afford to heat or even have empty rooms in or a college degree that I can’t pay for in my chosen field”. I hope my kids listen and don’t think everything needs to be bought right now. C

  • Reply Reece |

    Don’t save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving—Warren Buffett.
    I read a statistic yesterday that only 39% of Americans could cover a $1,000 emergency. I think it’s because so many of us aren’t taught to pay ourselves first. As a culture we are very into instant gratification as well!

  • Reply Mary |

    Please check out the blog called Six Figures Under. They were $144,000 in debt living with her in-laws in their basement with four kids. When they dug out of debt, they then saved for a house.

    What I really like about this blog is, despite having been deep in debt, they still set aside a tithing.

  • Reply Kara |

    I think the most basic thing that we all have to start with is this: spend less than you earn. Sounds trite, but it gets lost in all the complications of life.

  • Reply margann34 |

    I agree! Spend less than you earn. When you get paid, give some, save some, and live off the rest. Avoid paying interest as much as possible. Invest long term. Know the difference between needs and wants.

  • Reply JayP |

    In some ways it’s all in how you visualize finances. Don’t think of saving money as going without some nice thing or experience. Think of it as rewarding your future self. Visualize the $500 you saved this week as a cruise your future self will take. Every time I save 50 bucks I think about a fun meal with my family I will have soon in early retirement. And it will already be paid for.
    Quite honestly, my opinion is the single greatest obstacle to wealth is short term thinking.

  • Reply Ruby |

    I use YNAB and I find their principles for money and budgeting to make so much sense. Key is that every dollar has a job. That job might be rent or groceries or water bill, etc. Another key is that you need to plan for the unexpected. So many things that creep up on people are things that should be planned for. For example, we used to be surprised and scrambling when it came time to pay the property taxes. But that is something we should have (and now do) set aside money for it every month, so when that time comes along I don’t even blink to pay $1800. Also, car repairs or home repairs. Things break down, so money should be set aside for that eventuality.

  • Reply tpol1 |

    I am sharing some of the ideas I have worked into my life. I will write a long blog ost about these some time this week. Here is as summary:
    – Spend less than you earn
    – Once you reach a comfortable financial status, stay there, sock away the extra money as you get promoted and get paid better. Don’t cave in to life style inflation. (Ultimate Cheapskate’s Advice)
    – Our primary risk is to live really long.
    – Always have an Emergency Fund
    – Always ask yourself if it is a need or a want.
    – Use it up, make do or do without
    – Sell what you do not use. If you cannot sell certain items, donate them or throw them out if you have to. Clutter is your worst enemy.
    – Never waste food.
    -Prolong the life of your garments by washing them in cold water and gentle cycles. Never wear the same pair of shoes on two consecutive days. Before storing your garments and footwear for the next year, carefully clean them, stuff the shoes and polish them.
    – Make a list of free and fun things you truly enjoy by yourself and with others so, that you do not run out of ideas and spend money out of boredom.
    -Be active in your community and participate in free events
    – Do not be ashamed of offering an inexpensive alternative to an event you have been invited to.
    – Resist temptation. Think about your goals and what is important in your life.

  • Reply Alice |

    Several of the things that have been listed above are truly great principles. Never spend everything you make. Always save at least a little. Budget!

    I really like the blog of Trent Hamm, thesimpledollar dot com. My favorite posts are the Monday “Reader Mailbag” posts. Search the site for those keywords and you’ll have a veritable buffet of useful information.

    I would also suggest a few of Dave Ramsey’s books. He and his team of personalities do a great job of presenting information. I think you’ll like Chris Brown, too. But Dave has a couple of books that help with teaching kids about money.

  • Reply Joe |

    All of these “financial principles” are great and worthy of trying to figure out how to apply them to one’s own financial situation in useful ways. But it’s important to remember that they are also very broad and don’t represent immutable “laws” that are always applicable to individual circumstance.

    For instance, the quoted one in this post about how the most important thing is how much you save rather than what you earn is often used in a dismissive way against suggestions on how to generate more income. The fact is that if one were fortunate enough to get a higher paying job, without lifestyle inflation, you would save a lot more. (Obviously)

    For both bloggers, I wish you the best in 2018 to getting back onto a financially stable path!

  • Reply Patti |

    My principles:
    1. Never pay full price for anything and never buy what you cannot afford.
    2. Always have a little money stashed at home. Nothing is worse than being really, truly broke. Never use the money for anything except an emergency, then replace it as soon as humanly possible. This is in addition to your emergency fund at the bank. You may have to keep this a secret if your spouse is spendy, but they will be thrilled when you are able to pay for a real emergency.
    3. Never charge something you can’t afford to pay.
    Rules I live by:
    Cash flow what you need, even college can be cash flowed, it just takes longer and students may have to live at home and/or work a part time job.
    If you truly need a car, buy a used car or a demo.
    Clothes, if needed, can almost always be purchased used off eBay, off season or on markdown.
    Sox and undies should be new, but when you find a good sale on those you wear, stock up. If you don’t have many, keep up with your laundry.
    New shoes can be purchased on sale or off season for a fraction of retail prices. I know your foot is a weird size, mine is too, just takes a little more time. Take care of your shoes and they will last.
    Quilts, sheets, towels and pillows can be purchased at discounters or with a coupon. I also buy quilts and sheets off eBay. Unused guest rooms lead to lots of eBay sales.
    Thrift stores are full of items you may need or want. Check it out.
    Drink filtered water and homemade tea all day. It leaves money for a little wine.
    Try to buy only real food ingredients. If you need a few convenience foods for travel, buy only those with ingredients you can identify. Buy all your foods on sale and stock up. The stockpile can also be used on lean times.
    Many things at the dollar store are a good value, many are not. Know the difference.
    If your family uses OTC meds, get them before cold and flu season whiles prices are low.
    Consumer debt repayment is priority over everything except health care, food and shelter. Even car loans are to be avoided when possible. Once your debt is paid, save an emergency fund and then max out your retirement savings and payoff your home.
    If there is any money left after that, you can afford to bulk out your stockpile, have a dinner out, take a long weekend or a vacation.
    You’ve earned it, but you may choose to build up savings instead. That’s good, too.
    Good luck.

So, what do you think ?