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The best money advice isn’t a secret — it’s just not necessarily what you want to hear.
Good financial advice often involves spending less, and while that’s not the most glamorous thing to do, it’s guaranteed to help you keep more of your hard-earned cash. Keeping spending in check ensures there’s money leftover to save and invest, and build wealth for the future.
There are four tried-and-true pieces of money advice that no one ever wants to hear but, taken together, they make a solid foundation for building wealth, saving money, and keeping your finances in order.
1. Don’t buy too much house
Your dream house might not be within your budget. But that doesn’t mean overspending is the right move.
Buying too much house can keep you from being able to save, spend, and invest for the future. A good rule of thumb is to aim to spend no more than 28% of your monthly income on housing, including other costs like taxes and insurance.
You’ll likely be paying on this house for the next 30 years, and committing to three decades of overspending will have big consequences.
2. Don’t overspend on dining out
Eating out (or ordering in) can add up quickly.
Blogger Connie Conpoint, who is working towards financial independence, loves to eat out and factors this into her monthly budget. “I build it into my money management system, so I can plan for it instead of restricting myself,” she told Insider. She logs all of her expenses by category in order to stay within budget.
Cooking at home can be a great way to save money. Writer Lindsey Updyke saved $106 in a week by cooking at home, bringing her food costs down from her usual $200 per week to $94.
3. Don’t carry a credit card balance (if you can help it)
Carrying a credit card balance can make all of your purchases more expensive. It adds interest to your total balance, growing the amount you owe (and the amount that interest is calculated on).
While it can be unavoidable in some situations, carrying a balance can not only grow your debt, but also hurt your credit score. This can increase the total amount it will cost to borrow money later, and even increase things like insurance costs. These things will far outweigh any perks the card might offer.
Carrying a balance on your credit card can have big consequences. Paying it off every month can go a long way.
4. Track your spending to see where your money goes
Many people think they don’t need to keep track of their money, but almost everyone needs a budget.
Tracking spending helped writer Megan DeMatteo save about $2,000 in a year. Not only was she more conscious of her budget, but it helped her see where she was overspending and cut back on restaurant, transportation, ridesharing services, and home-goods spending.
A spreadsheet was DeMatteo’s option, and could be a great way to start tracking your own spending.
5. Don’t feel like you have to keep up with everyone else’s spending
While it might seem harmless, “keeping up with the Joneses” can be devastating for your finances.
If you’ve never heard the phrase, its meaning is relatively simple: it’s about keeping up with the possessions and lifestyles of everyone around you.
It’s a habit that can quickly mean taking on a larger mortgage than you should, and overspending on vacations, cars, clothing, and dining out.
Keeping up with everyone else’s lifestyle could encourage you to live above your means, and leave you further behind than you started.