Unconventional Personal Finance Advice

Running a personal finance blog for college students and young professionals puts me in front of an audience with varying degrees of financial knowledge.

Some of the older readers of Studenomics are more interested in credit card optimization, real estate investments, high interest savings accounts, and various other advanced topics.

Some of the newer readers of Studenomics are more concerned with killing credit card debt, saving money, and figuring out how to plan that next Spring Break trip.

To be honest, I love writing for both sets of readers.

Today I will meet both groups somewhere in the middle. I wanted to share with you guys some unconventional personal finance advice that I believe in and follow myself. If you don’t like it or agree with it then that’s cool. If you learn something new, that’s cool too.

Let’s look at some unconventional/non-mainstream personal finance advice:

Cut your losses.

The other day I paid to attend a study session that was supposed to be extremely helpful. A third of the way in I walked out because I figured out I wasn’t going to extract any value from it. My friend stayed the full session only because he had already paid for it. I don’t believe in that. I believe in cutting my losses.

Once you pay for something that is non-refundable (a meal or drink for example) you have incurred a sunk cost. You’ve already paid for this item and are pretty much stuck with it. I just accept it. If I realize that I don’t like the drink I won’t drink it. I don’t believe in forcing yourself to consume a purchase just because you have already paid for it.

How do I deal with cutting my losses?

1. Suck it up.

2. Learn from them and move on with life.

Of course I don’t cut any losses until I attempt to attain a refund or “make the best of the situation.” After that I’m gone. I’ll save the complaining for those that didn’t cut their losses.

Pay for stuff you hate doing.

What do you think of my new blog design? I think it’s amazing personally. Did I do it myself? Oh hell no. I hate technical and artistic stuff. Actually let me rephrase that– I suck at technical and artistic stuff (as I’m sure many of you have realized by now). This is why I opted to save hours of frustration and confusion from my life by outsourcing the work to Larry of Empty Cabin Media.

Yes I do understand the value in being a Jack of all trades and do-it-yourself projects. However, it doesn’t mean I have to do everything myself. Building a new shed in the backyard on a warm day can be a fun and interactive family activity. Trying to code a Thesis blog design, fixing a computer, painting the house, cooking food, etc. can be very boring and time consuming for many of us. Why not just pay someone to do it for us?

I won’t start throwing equations and calculations at you, but your time is very valuable. Use it the way you want to. Use your time the way that adds the most value to your life.

Use credit cards to your advantage.

I know that credit cards could screw you up badly in your 20s. They can also be very beneficial. No matter what happens, you’re ultimately responsible for your own credit card use. Don’t blame anyone else for it.

If you feel that you’ve mastered your credit card usage, they why not take advantage of your credit card?

Pay for big group purchases with it, use it when you travel, automate your bills to go to straight to your credit card, and get a rewards credit card.

Get some cash back from a rewards credit card and build your credit rating while you’re at it (you’re going to need it one day for that home or new car purchase). Don’t rip up your credit card and then declare the issuer of it as being the second coming of Hitler. Take control of your credit card spending and try using your credit card to your advantage.

Bottom line– stop thinking that credit cards are evil.

(I know this is easier said than done. So take a moment and look through the dozens of articles that I’ve written about credit cards and debt reduction.)

Travel– even if you don’t have lots of money saved.

Everyone tells you to pay off your debt, save for retirement, and put down a down payment on mortgage before you can travel. So you’re telling me I have to wait until I get tired early and am not as adventurous to see random places in the world?

I have a little bit of money saved, not a lot by any means. This won’t stop me from getting away from a treacherous winter to a nice tropical island once in a while. There are also many places I want to see in the world in my 20s and I will at least try to see as many of them as possible. I know that I can’t compete with Chris Guillebeau but there’s nothing wrong with seeing the world while you’re young.

I wouldn’t recommend any you go into debt to travel. I just wouldn’t let a little bit of outstanding debt or a small savings account stop me from seeing places in this amazing world.

I’ll stop there with my unconventional personal finance advice. Time to share yours.

What personal finance advice do you follow that isn’t exactly mainstream or conventional?

2 thoughts on “Unconventional Personal Finance Advice”

  1. I think you just summarized the reasons I started my blog last week.

    I was tired of reading comments from the Scrooge McDucks that yell at people for hiring a housekeeper or the spending addicts that blame credit card companies for their astounding debts. Heaven forbid I ever mention that my husband and I take an annual vacation when we still are paying off $11,000 on a car loan and $75,000 on a mortgage.

    Pay your bills, save for your future, and prioritize the rest, right?

  2. Travel is always a good idea. My wife and I try to travel (“take a vacation”) once a year. I know that’s it’s a unnecessary expense from a financial point-of-view. But the benefits outweigh the costs.

    I work 51 weeks in a year to the best of my ability and probably grow quite a few gray hairs due to the stress. My investment in a one-week vacation relieves this stress and allows me time to reset.

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