15 Personal Finance Tips That’ll Help You Master Your Money

the millennial money woman blog post "15 actionable personal finance tips"

Disclosure: This post may receive compensation from partners listed through affiliate partnerships, at no cost to you. This doesn’t influence our ratings, and the opinions are our own. Learn more here.

Now more than ever, it’s essential to understand the basics of personal finance.

And In this article, I’ve listed the top 15 personal finance tips that’ll help you master your money.

Let’s dive right in.

personal finance tip #1 build a budget

Finance Tip #1: Build [and stick to] a Budget

One of the most important personal finance tips for beginners – and virtually anyone – is to 
build a budget

Think of a budget like a road map: You can’t get from Point A to Point B without a guidance tool – your road map. 

Your budget does exactly that – your budget guides you from your current financial situation to where you want to be in the future. 

Sadly, only 4 in 10 U.S. adults have a budget – which is shocking considering that 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck!

4 in 10 american adults have a budget

Source: NFCC

A budget builds the foundation on how you treat your income and expenses. 

Below are some steps that will help you create a killer budget:

  • Determine how much you’re spending currently
  • Determine your future financial goals
  • Build a budget to help you get there

Personally, I think You Need A Budget [aka YNAB] does such a good job when it comes to visually breaking down your current spending patterns versus how much you should be spending to reach your future financial goals.

YNAB claims that new YNABers save more than $600 in their first 2 months – and they save more than $6,000 after their first year.

And it gets better, YNAB also offers a free 34-day trial!

Recommended Reading: YNAB Review

personal finance tip #2 calculate your net worth

Finance Tip #2: Calculate your Net Worth

One of the most important personal finance tips to help you better start managing money is determining your 
net worth.

Most 20-year-olds for example have a negative net worth, especially if they just came from college and are paying off student loans

Below is a graph of the median net worth for the following age groups:

Age Median Net Worth

Under 35


35 to 44


45 to 54


55 to 64


65 to 74


75 and older


Data Source: Federal Reserve

Your net worth is basically a snapshot of how much you own vs. how much you owe at a single moment in time.

You can check your net worth by downloading free programs like Personal Capital, using an Excel spreadsheet, or by downloading my free net worth statement (below).

free net worth template

Free Net Worth Template

Sign up below to receive my free net worth template and my latest content updates.

Either way, your net worth statement should help you understand where you are currently and which debts you may want to focus on paying off first so that your net worth increases.

personal finance tip #3 become a savvy saver

Finance Tip #3: Become a Savvy Saver

One of the most common finance tips for beginners is to 
save money.

How do you save money?

Below are a couple of steps you can start now:

  • Create a budget
  • Only buy what you need
  • Cut out unnecessary expenses
  • Look for coupons and promotions

Here’s the easiest way to save money:

Cut your subscription costs. 

Subscription services (like internet, cell phone bills, streaming, etc.) can cost you a pretty penny over time.

You can save a nice chunk of money if you cut your subscription costs – and services like Rocket Money negotiate your subscription costs for you 👇

You don’t pay them a penny unless they successfully reduced your price (at which point you pay a percentage of what Rocket Money managed to save you).

Personally, I save and invest just around 70% of my gross annual income because I have lofty retirement goals and I know that an “average” rule-of-thumb will not get me there.

If you want to be above average, you’ll have to do what the average person will not.

And, sometimes, that means sacrificing a little more today (by saving more money) to live a much better tomorrow.

personal finance tip #4 start a side hustle

Finance Tip #4: Start a Side Hustle

There is a downside to saving money: The amount of money you can save is limited. 

In other words, everyone will have to spend some amount of money for basic living expenses like food, shelter, water, etc. 

However, the amount of money that you can earn is unlimited.

And that’s why you should consider starting a side hustle.

In fact, one in three Americans already has a side hustle.

34% of americans have a side hustle

Source: Zapier

Especially with the recent COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of us were shown that you cannot rely on just 1 income stream anymore. 

Your work could let you go at any moment and you’d be left without an income stream. That’s why it’s so important to find and build a side hustle that could add an extra income stream to your household.

In fact, 31% of Americans started their side hustle in 2020 – and another 24% of Americans (around 61.1 million people) are planning to start a side hustle in 2021.

24% of Americans are planning to start a side hustle in 2021

Clearly, side hustles are a growing trend.

Here’s how you find your perfect side hustle:

  • Find something you like to do
  • Find something that could earn you money
  • Learn as much about your side hustle as possible
  • Carve out about 3 to 4+ hours a day for your side hustle

Believe it or not, if you work hard and if you’re consistent with your efforts, your side hustle could replace your full-time income.

personal finance tip #5 build an emergency fund

Finance Tip #5: Build an Emergency Fund

A very important piece to your personal finance strategy is building an 
emergency savings fund.

An emergency fund is designed to help you in the case of an emergency like:

  • A flat tire
  • A leaky roof
  • Medical bills

So, if it costs you about $2,000 per month to live, then your emergency fund should have the following range of cash saved:

Minimum of 3 months’ worth of living expenses Maximum of 6 months’ worth of living expenses

$2,000 X 3 months = $6,000

$2,000 X 6 months = $12,000

Now, your emergency savings fund should be liquid – meaning it shouldn’t be invested. It should just be a cash account. 

To get the biggest bang for your buck, you should consider opening a high-yield savings account like through Axos Bank 👇

A high-yield savings account is the same thing as a regular savings account at a bank (FDIC insured, online access, etc.).

The only difference is that you earn a higher interest rate with a high-yield saving account (up to 10x the national average).

For example, my savings account at my bank yields about 0.01% interest.

Axos Bank, for instance, would yield 0.61%.

An emergency savings account is critical to your financial health and it should be one of the first things you should aim to build before focusing your financial efforts elsewhere.

personal finance tip #6 live frugally

Finance Tip #6: Live Frugally [But Don’t be Cheap]

Managing money on a tight budget is more of an art than a science. 

If you want to:

  • Retire early
  • Find financial freedom
  • Get out of the 9 to 5 rat race

…Then one of the first things you’ll want to do is to start living frugally.

Frugal living doesn’t necessarily mean living cheaply.

Below are some fun financial tips that you can implement to live more frugally:

  • Make your own foamy hand soap by mixing dish soap with water (ratio of 1:3)
  • Ask boutique stores or massive retailers if you could use their old clothing hangers
  • Pre-wrap shoeboxes with gift paper and reuse the shoeboxes when gifting presents 

While these lifestyle changes may seem small – over the long run, saving money on hangers and gift wrapping paper could make a huge difference in your budget.

Of course, there are more drastic changes you can make that include:

  • Start budgeting
  • Find a roommate
  • Don’t buy a new car
  • Stop going out to eat
  • Stop buying new clothes

If you implement any of these money tips today, then make sure that you use the money you saved to build your emergency savings fund, pay off high-interest debt, or invest in the stock market.

Don’t just let that cash sit around and do nothing.

personal finance tip #7 pay off high interest debt

Finance Tip #7: Pay off High-Interest Debt

Guys and gals, this is one of the most important financial tips you’ll ever hear: Pay off your high-interest debt ASAP. 

High-interest debt (like credit card debt) is bad debt.

If you do find yourself building bad debt, your priority should be paying off that bad debt as fast as possible.


Let me show you:

Average Credit Card Interest Rate Average Stock Market Return

20% to 24%

7% to 10%

It would make more sense to me to pay off bad debt (because your “return” – aka the interest rate that you’re being charged) is much higher than the average return in the stock market. 

If you have credit card debt, then I recommend you check out the credit card debt consolidation company Tally 👇

Tally helps roll all of your debts into 1 giant pot, so your payments are consolidated (aka you don’t have to pay 15 bills to 15 different companies), typically your interest rates are lower, and your deadlines are moved as well.

Of course, once you pay off your bad debt, the next thing you’ll want to focus on is managing money and increasing the amount of money you invest. 

personal finance tip #8 invest in low cost index funds

Finance Tip #8: Invest in Low-Cost Index Funds

This is one of the most important financial tips for beginners: Invest in the stock market using 
low-cost index funds

Ok, what does that jargon mean?

Here’s a breakdown for you, in plain English:

Finance Jargon Plain English


Make regular contributions

Stock Market

A riskier investment (because you’re investing in companies) but it’s proven especially over the long term

Low Cost

You pay money for the privilege to invest in a certain company, mutual fund, ETF (exchange traded fund), etc. This is called an “expense ratio

Index Funds

A basket of companies that is designed to perform as well as an index

Index Funds are not designed to outperform the market. But, they are low cost, they are low stress, and over the long-term (historically speaking) they have always done well.

One of the most effective index fund investing strategies is known as the Dollar Cost Averaging strategy (aka the DCA strategy).

Dollar cost averaging works because it takes human emotion out of the situation.

Because we are human, we are driven by emotion – which can often be quite detrimental to our investment strategy (we decide to sell out of fear and we decide to buy out of greed or FOMO).

Here’s an example of a DCA strategy:

DCA Strategy Example

Money Invested


Stock the Money Will be Invested In

SPX (an S&P 500 Index Fund)

How Often the Money Will be Invested

Every 2 weeks

How Long This Strategy Will Be In Place

40 years

Over time, your DCA strategy can make a huge difference in your investment portfolio.

The trick is to stay consistent with your plan – and of course not to withdraw money from your investment portfolio. 

If you’re serious about investing for the long term, then consider opening a free M1 Finance investment account 👇

Here’s why M1 Finance rocks: 

  • It’s free to open
  • It offers low expense ratios
  • It charges $0 in management fees

It took me about 5 minutes to install and M1 Finance gives you the choice to either use 1 of 80 preselected investment portfolios (prepared by the M1 Finance team) or you can build your own investment portfolio. 

The downside is that you need have at least $100 to start investing for an individual account or at least $500 to start investing in a retirement account (like an IRA). 

M1 Finance will work wonders if you’re seriously committed to investing a set amount of money over a long period of time.

personal finance tip #9 review your insurance coverage

Finance Tip #9: Review Your Insurance Coverage

While this finance tip may be one of the more advanced personal finance tips, I do think it’s important to mention that you should review your insurance coverage annually – if not semi-annually.

By insurance coverage, I mean the following:

  • Car insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Home insurance
  • Health insurance

If you have other insurance policies, then I would review those as well. 

Believe it or not, there is a lot of money that you can save by reviewing your insurance policies and potentially editing some of the content on these policies. 

For example, you could save $100’s if not $1,000’s if you review your life insurance. 

The cheapest type of life insurance you could buy is called term life insurance – and typically for $1 million in a death benefit, you would have to pay around $30 to $50 per month, depending on your health profile.

Need help deciding between insurers? Policygenius makes it easy to compare quotes and companies in one place.

The team of experts at Policygenius is on hand to guide you through the application process step by step.

Let’s switch gears from life insurance to car and home insurance.

Even if you feel like you don’t need to update your home insurance, it’s worth running a free quote, just to see what prices you could be eligible for.

I’d suggest you take a look at Lemonade insurance to run some free quotes.

Lemonade homeowners insurance covers you:

  • If a tree falls on your shed
  • If you’re sued for liability
  • If your home is damaged
  • If your home is unlivable
  • If your stuff gets stolen
  • If a visitor gets injured

It gets better: Prices start from just $25 per month.

personal finance tip #10 understand the difference between traditional and roth

Finance Tip #10: Understand the Difference Between Traditional & Roth

One of the most important money tips for any beginner or advanced finance nerd is to understand the difference between a Traditional account and a Roth account. 

Finance can be like a foreign language.

When I first stepped into the finance world (I came from a background in public relations), it felt like I was learning a new language. 

I understand your pain. 

Regardless, if you want to get ahead and improve your financial wellness, it’s important to understand basic finance terms.

Keep in mind that you could have a Roth IRA, Roth 401k or even Roth 403b. Likewise, you could have a Traditional IRA, Traditional 401k or Traditional 403b.

Roth means you already paid taxes on your contributions, while Traditional means you will pay taxes on your contribution when you withdraw your money (typically recommended to occur after age 59.5)

If you’re starting in your career but you want to start making contributions to a Roth Account, then you may want to consider opening a Roth IRA with M1 Finance.

personal finance tip #11 invest in yourself

Finance Tip #11: Invest in Yourself

Investing in yourself is likely the most crucial personal finance tip and yet, it can also be one of the most fun financial tips.


Your return on investment is unlimited when you invest in yourself.

Now, I don’t necessarily mean go straight to college, go into debt by several $10,000’s and start working a job. 

What I mean by investing in yourself is that there are many tools around – and often free – that can still help you get ahead in this world:

  • Books
  • YouTube
  • Podcasts
  • Online courses

The cost of the course, book, etc. will likely pay for itself in the future.

One of the top online learning platforms is Udemy 👇 

Udemy is an online learning and teaching marketplace with over 183000 courses and 40 million students.

You can learn:

  • Design
  • Business
  • Marketing
  • Programming

And so much more.

One of my favorite courses that’s offered by Udemy that can come in handy – especially if you’re planning to start your own business – is called: An Entire MBA in 1 Course.

This is the place to take time out of your day to level up, get better, which could all lead to improved future financial wellness.

personal finance tip #12 update your will

Finance Tip #12: Update your Will

Updating your will is likely one of those advanced personal finance tips – but still crucial for anyone who is looking to improve their financial health. 

Most Millennials don’t really think about estate planning because we’re just starting out in life, and we don’t want to think about death.

I get it. 

But planning for your future (aka your death) is critical. 

That’s because we just don’t know when our plans will end – and we want to be sure we’re prepared for anything that comes. For our family. 

That’s why it’s important to update and review some of the following estate planning documents every 8 to 10 years or so:

  • Basic Wills
  • Living Wills
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Financial Power of Attorney
  • Guardianship documents (for kids)

I would honestly recommend you to spend the money and visit an actual estate planning attorney to draft up these documents for you. 

However, estate planning attorneys don’t come cheap, as they typically charge between $1,000 to $2,000+ for basic estate planning documents.

If you don’t have that spare cash, you could choose another, much more cost-effective option by creating your estate documents online through companies like Trust & Will.

Trust & Will is a respected and well-known online provider for estate planning documents.

While Trust & Will may not provide the same level of customized service as an individual estate planning attorney does, you will still receive estate planning services for a fraction of the cost (we’re talking about a few $100).

Especially for Millennials whose situations are typically not complex (yet), an online estate planning company might be the next step.

Make sure you protect yourself and your family today.

It’s not fun to talk about your own mortality, but it’s necessary to take the precautionary steps and start planning ahead.

personal finance tip #13 take advantage of employer matching contributions

Finance Tip #13: Take Advantage of Employer Matching Contributions

Another important finance tip that everyone should follow today is taking advantage of your 
employer matching contributions

What does this mean?

First, you’ll have to answer some of the questions below:

  • Are you an employee? 
  • Does your employer offer a 401k or a 403b?
  • Are you eligible to contribute to your 401k / 403b?
  • Are you aware if there is an employer matching program?
  • Do you know how much your employer is willing to match?

If you don’t know the answer to these questions – that’s perfectly fine. 

Here’s how you can find the answer to these questions:

  • Contact your Human Resources department and ask them these questions
  • Review your plan document (you should have received either a PDF or a physical plan 401k/403b document when you first were hired)

Employer matching contributions are essentially free money – and you’re not taxed on those contributions, either.

How do you become eligible for an employer matching contribution?

As long as your employer actually offers a matching contribution, you become eligible when you start contributing to your employer-sponsored retirement plan (aka your 401k or 403b).

Typically, employers will match your contribution dollar-for-dollar, up to 3% or 4% of your total salary.

For example:

Employer Matching Contribution Example

Your Annual Salary


Employer Matching Contribution Maximum

3% of annual salary (aka $3,000)

You Contribute


Your Employer Contributes


If you only contributed $1,000, then your employer would have only contributed $1,000. 

Either way, an employer matching contribution is free money, and I highly recommend you take advantage of the incentive.

personal finance tip #14 set specific monetary goals

Finance Tip #14: Set Specific Monetary Goals

This is one of the most important financial tips you’ll hear: Be as specific as possible when it comes to setting money goals.

The clearer you are with your goals:

  • The more likely you’ll accomplish them
  • The more likely you’ll create a game plan 
  • The more likely you’ll know exactly how to win

Have you ever found yourself dreaming of living in a mansion in Miami with a purple Lamborghini?

My husband certainly has.

So, if he wants to accomplish this goal, it’s time to set some serious and specific financial goals into motion so that the purple Lamborghini can become a reality. 

In this case, I would suggest to:

  • Make sure you follow a strict budget
  • Consistently track your financial progress 

My favorite budgeting tool is YNAB (you already knew that) and I would also suggest you check out Personal Capital.

Personal Capital offers you (for free) the following:

  • Savings Planner
  • Retirement Planner
  • Net worth calculator
  • Cash flow management tools

So, if my husband wants to afford a Miami mansion with a purple Lamborghini, below are some goals that we may want to pursue starting now:

  • Cut expenses by 10% 
  • Start a side hustle and invest the income
  • Save and invest 70% or more of annual income
  • Crack $1,000,000 in net worth by the time we’re 30 years old 
  • Build our net worth to $2,500,000 by the time we’re 35 years old
  • Build our net worth to $3,500,000 by the time we’re 40 years old

Are these goals lofty?

Heck yes!

But then again, how do you expect to accomplish anything if you’re not reaching for the stars?

personal finance tip #15 avoid lifestyle creep

Finance Tip #15: Avoid Lifestyle Creep

Guys and Gals, as you 
increase your earning potential, make sure you don’t increase your lifestyle expenses – otherwise known as Lifestyle Creep. 

Don’t do it. 

Avoiding lifestyle creep was one of the most important finance tips my millionaire mentor engrained in me – and it’s helped me keep my living expenses in line. 

Back when I first started working, I earned $2,000 per month – that’s $24,000 per year – in Miami. That’s barely anything (and trust me, I spent every single cent). 

Even as my corporate career progressed to earn well over the six-figure marker, I still lived as if I earned $2,000 per month. 

And you know what? 

My bank accounts today are thanking me massively.

If you want to get ahead financially – and still avoid lifestyle creep – then start following and sticking to a strict budget. 

You can start budgeting and saving money using YNAB (one of my faves), Mint, or an Excel Spreadsheet.

Your income should not dictate how much money you spend.

Don’t buy it, if you don’t need it.

Closing Thoughts

These 15 financial tips are designed to help you improve managing money and advance your overall personal finance strategy.

Do you want to know the best part?

You don’t need an MBA or other fancy college degree to successfully implement these personal finance tips – anyone can do it, as long as you’re consistent and dedicated. 

To build wealth you’ll need:

  • Patience
  • Consistency
  • Determination

And honestly, your journey to financial freedom really starts by creating a budget with apps like YNAB, Mint, or simply by using an Excel spreadsheet and consistently tracking your income and expenses.

If you implement these money tips, then you could soon see the results that you were looking for. 

Start today – and your bank accounts will thank me later. 

Which finance tips did you find most helpful? Let me know in the comment section below!

Fiona Smith
Fiona Smith
Fiona Smith is the founder and CEO of The Millennial Money Woman. She has spent 10+ years studying finance, with the last 7 as a wealth and investment advisor. She has worked with clients with a net worth of up to $100M and holds her Master of Science Degree in Personal Financial Planning. She has also co-founded a local non-profit community teaching financial literacy and her work is featured on Forbes, FinCon, and MSN.

28 thoughts on “15 Personal Finance Tips That’ll Help You Master Your Money”

  1. Great list!

    A lot of these I am already incorporating but it’s good to see what extra I could be doing – given me some fresh ideas.

    Thank you

  2. “Avoid Lifestyle Creep” is the important one that I always try to follow! The list is really impressive. I am going to note it on my personal note. I think people will get a lot of benefits from this post. Carry one, please.

  3. I’m thankful you mentioned the importance of budgeting properly in order to save money. My significant other is interested in hiring professional services of this variety. I’ll be certain to send your article to her to help her out in her time of need.

    1. Hi Lloyd,

      I’m so glad that you found this article helpful – and hopefully your significant other will also find this article helpful. Continued luck in your financial journeys!



  4. I’m currently taking a short SEO course now in hopes of enhancing my professional career and utilizing the things I’ve learned for my personal blog. This is the first time I took a course after college. I wish I did it sooner and learned more through the years instead of cramming it all at once. I was hesitant at first because I didn’t want to shell out money, but then I realized I need to risk something in order to gain something. You can’t grow in your career if you don’t invest time, effort, and money. Hopefully, by the time I finish, I can get a job that allows me to work from home.

    1. Hi Dana,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience.
      You’re absolutely right – investing in yourself and in your career is one of the best things you can do. While you likely won’t see immediate returns, just be patient and give it some time until you see your initial investment paying off.

      Good luck and cheers!


  5. “Set Specific Monetary Goals” is the most vital point to read and follow! I hope people will like the full list. I am going to share the post on my Twitter page to see my friends and followers. Keep posting things like this.

  6. Yep, these are helpful points, and “Set Specific Monetary Goals” is the most amazing one here! I have pleased to read the entirety of the post as mentioned above in detail. I am going to share the post on my Twitter page to see my followers. Thank you so much and keep up the good work!

    1. Hi SH,

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

      I’m glad this post was of value to you – and you’re exactly right: Setting Specific Monetary goals is extremely important, especially if you’re looking to achieve a specific financial goal.



  7. An outstanding guide to learning aboutfinance tips! I appreciate t and got some impressive knowledge about it. I have pleased to read the entirety of the post as mentioned above in detail. I am going to bookmark the site for further assistance. Thanks and keep it up!

  8. Hey, Fiona, “Set Specific Monetary Goals” is the most important as you discussed it in very detail and I appreciate the reading. The list is brilliant and you did hard work to arrange the list together. Please keep posting things like this.

  9. I don’t know if this is still active but I would just like to give you, Fiona, a great place for young people, and even older people, to check out. Their name is Groundfloor. They would probably fit under the category of “crowd-funding”. But they are unbelievable. The good thing is you do not have to be an accredited investor. They service a unique segment of the country and they are growing like wildfire. They pay 4-6 per cent on simple saving account, but it is actually like a checking account because you can withdraw money at any time. They also make loans to individuals and small contractors for 9-12 months and those have averaged 10+ %. They have 3,6,12,and 24 month notes that pay from 3-10%. I have been using them for over 3 years and have availed myself of all their methods. Just please check it out for your followers. And, I am doing this on my own, I get nothing from them. In todays world the market is a minefield and no place for young people to be risking their money, until they have prepared for their future, as you did. I am 80 years old and have experienced a lot in the market and this is the best thing I have come across.

    1. Hi Fred,

      I really appreciate you sharing this information with me and the readers of The MMW!

      I am actually familiar with Groundfloor and agree that this platform can be very helpful, especially when investors are looking to diversify their portfolios, build passive income streams, and hedge against inflation. It’s great to hear that you have had a good experience with the platform – and I’m so happy that you took the time to share that experience here.



  10. Rodgers Muyizere

    So important stuff.. I keep following you Fiona and on this journey to financial freedom i work towards to, i know with these proven and tasted tips + more to come from you will slowly but surely get me there. Thanks dear..

    1. Hi Rodgers,

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

      I’m so thrilled to hear these articles help you on your journey to financial freedom – and I cannot wait to hear more updates from you as you approach your goal.

      Good luck and cheers!


  11. Thank you fiona for this great article, i have learnt a lot from this. I would always keep referring to this to not forget certain things

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join over 30,000+ others who receive my weekly newsletter, where I share the secrets to creating modern wealth 👇

fiona smith the millennial money woman

Unlock the Secrets to Modern Wealth Creation

Join 30,000+ others and get access to exclusive tips, strategies and techniques that I don’t share anywhere else 👇

You can unsubscribe at any time.