Earlier this month I spoke with TV news personality Barry Choi and blogger at moneywehave.com about financial literacy. During our conversation, Barry offered some of his favorite tools and tips for saving money.
Barry’s Basic Budget Rules
As we discussed earlier, Barry has just a few basic rules for managing your money:
- Spend less than you make.
- Pay yourself first.
- Always take free money when it’s offered to you.
“There’s a lot of free money out there you can take advantage of,” he says—and he’s not talking about the lottery. By “free money,” Barry is referring to things like employee benefits, pensions and stocks.
If you think you aren’t making enough money to start saving and investing, consider reallocating your funds.
“Understand benefits in general and figure out what you can take advantage of,” Barry says. “There are all these small things that people tend to forget.”
Find a System That Suits You
There are many ways you can manage your personal finances. “Everyone’s different,” Barry says. “You have to find a system that works for you… and stick with it.”
But the first step is always the same: Start tracking your spending so you know where your money is going.
In my personal life and in business, I use an old-fashioned Excel spreadsheet (download our free worksheet here) to keep track of my finances, and my “budget” consists of withdrawing a certain amount of cash at the beginning of each week and spending no more than what I have. Barry’s system is slightly more complex, and he relies on technology to help him track his finances. A few of his favorite online tools:
- MoneyWise app: An electronic checkbook that helps you track your expenses and cash flow.
- Mint.com: A free website and app that meticulously organizes and categorizes your spending.
Since a lot of people are planning their summer vacations—and Barry himself was preparing to leave for Europe when we spoke—we spent a few minutes talking about budget travel. “You’ve got to have a budget first,” Barry says. “Then see where you can travel for a limited amount.
A few more travel tips from Barry:
- Save money on hotels by taking advantage of friends who live overseas. There’s no shame in couch-surfing.
- If it’s feasible, consider driving instead of flying. If you have to fly, choose to fly with budget airlines.
- Use AirBnB to rent a flat or condo for half the price of a hotel.
- Don’t eat out for every single meal. Stop by the grocery store to pick up basic supplies.
- Take the emotion out of your itinerary planning. Don’t lock into one location or site if it will cost too much time or money.
- Don’t skip out on travel insurance—you might make yourself bankrupt if you get sick.
Barry’s Book Club
You don’t have to go to business school to get a handle on your finances. It’s easy enough to take your financial education into your own hands by heading to the library or bookstore.
“I tell people if they just read one of those books, they’ll know more about personal finance than 80 percent of the country right away,” Barry says. “A lot of the questions they have kind of answer themselves, because they realize they’re all related.” Barry’s top picks:
- Stop Over-thinking Your Money: The Five Simple Rules of Financial Success by Preet Banerjee
- Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School by Andrew Hallam
Now that you’ve heard Barry’s top tips for saving money, I’d like to know: What are yours? Please share in the comments section below.