CFI Blog

The Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Day-to-Day Finances

A lot of what I cover deals with psychology – defeating Monkey Brain and with long-term goals and visions – Accelerating Retirement. I focus on big wins, what are the things you can do to get the greatest leverage out of the human capital and income-earning years that you have in your life, and to keep you from getting burned and losing money. I look at projections into the future and use complicated quantitative models to try to gaze into the crystal ball and see where the road takes you.

I also realize that there’s more to personal finance than the big picture. You don’t get to the point where you’re no longer buried and can look forward and see an approaching goal on the horizon without a lot of sweat and effort. A lot of the good things in life are earned through sacrifice cutting focus and hard work (and no commas).

Below, I’ve provided you with what I think are some of the articles and websites out there which cover those topics. Sometimes I write about these topics as well, and these are articles and websites by people who have done deep dives in the topics.

Is there a link I should add? Did I miss a category? Follow me on Twitter or contact me and tell me what I missed!

Here we go!

Part 1: Getting Out of Debt

Part 2: Credit Cards and Credit Scores

Part 3: Negotiating for Discounts

Part 4: Alternatives to Cable

Part 5: Money Saving Tips Around the House

Part 6: Reducing Material Possessions

Part 7: Finding the Right Bank Account

Part 8: Increasing the Value of Your Home

Part 9: Travel, Miles, and Rewards Points

Bonus Section: Mens Sana in Corpore Sano

Bonus Section 2: Military Money

Part 1: Getting Out of Debt

Getting Out of Debt

My Most Mortifying Money Moment | Jason Hull – Sometimes it takes acknowledging to someone whom you really want to impress that you’re in a hole before you stop digging.
Debt snowball | Dave Ramsey – This is the granddaddy of them all. It’s what really kicked our plan into high gear and finally got us completely debt free. Simple, easy to follow, and, most importantly, acknowledges (indirectly) Monkey Brain and focuses on action over reason.
How To: Stop Buying Crap | Stop Buying Crap – Invariably, consumer debt is because we buy more than we can afford. How much of it, five years later, will we think “Boy, I’m glad I bought that!” This article makes that point, repeatedly and bluntly.
5 Reasons a Man Should Still Carry Cash | Simple Mom – it’s easy to whip out the plastic. I remember a Flintstones episode where Wilma and Betty mouth trumpet a cavalry charge and yell “Charge it!” Charging it gives Monkey Brain immediate gratification and delays pain to sometime in the future. This article gives some great reasons why cash trumps Monkey Brain.

Part 2: Credit Cards and Credit Scores

Credit Cards and Credit Scores

Credit Card Resource Page | Philip Taylor at PT Money – some of the most comprehensive information on the web about credit cards and perks (plus, Philip’s just an all-around good guy)
Nerdwallet’s Best Rewards Credit Card Roundup | Nerd Wallet – if you’re responsible with your credit card usage and keep within your budget, why not get some perks out of allowing the credit card companies to charge retailers a little 1.5% convenience fee? This is a great summary of the up-to-date market information on rewards cards.
How Many Credit Cards Should I Have? | Mint—One card where you have just one payment? A bunch to have low utilization and a great credit score? The answer may surprise you.
Does a Credit Score Matter to Someone Living a Debt-Free Lifestyle? | The Simple Dollar – If you’re not going to borrow money ever again, do you really need a credit score? Unfortunately, you probably do.
How to Raise Your Credit Score Fast | Money Girl – Don’t be fooled. There is no “quick fix.” However, these are eight tips which will help if your credit score is low.
Credit Repair: How to DIY and Avoid a Scam | Federal Trade Commission – It’s just as you suspected. The advertisements telling you that they can remove your bad credit guarantee are too good to be true.

Part 3: Couponing


Deals of the Day | Wisebread – The folks at Wisebread do a great job of scouring the Internet to find current deals. No point in finding a coupon only to discover it expired eighteen months ago.
RetailMeNot – Before you buy something, either online or offline, it’s worth seeing if they have a coupon for you.
The Coupon Geek – I co-founded and eventually sold a technology company. To me, geek is a term of endearment, admiration, and love. Therefore, I can’t help but be drawn to Jaycie, a woman who calls herself a coupon geek. The other things that I think makes this blog great are that she’s constantly finding and updating deals, most all of the coupons are printable, and the coupons aren’t just for esoteric items like $0.50 off of lime and vanilla scented hamster litter.
The Frugal Girls – I love to read. I also love to read free books. I really love to read free books on my Kindle. What I enjoy about this blog is that it seems like every third offer is for a (readable) free e-book. There are a lot of free e-books which are worth the price you pay, but there are some which are quite good, and Heidi (the singular person behind the Frugal Girls) manages to weed out the crap. Also, don’t forget to check out your local library and see if they offer Kindle books on loan (hat tip to my BRILLIANT friend Courtney (#aff) for that one).
Coupon Mom’s listing of coupons by state – Coupons for Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage, Alaska (GREAT popcorn there, by the way) don’t do me much good when I’m not conveniently located in Anchorage. This list allows you to find coupons which actually apply to you where you live. By the way, if you live in Anchorage and can find a coupon for Darwin’s Theory, I’d consider flying up there!

Part 4: Negotiating for Discounts

11 Creative Ways to Negotiate and Lower Your Rent | Ready for Zero – I like to haggle. I also have rental properties. This blog post scratches both sides of the itch. If we had a potential tenant who offered these eleven items, and then delivered, we’d be happy landlords, and likely to engage in a long-term lease. Both sides win!
Reasons to Keep More Than a Six Month Emergency Fund in Cash | Jason Hull – Cash is king. Nothing says “here’s my final offer” like several Benjamin Franklins spread out in front of the sales person.
Yes, You Can Negotiate Your Medical Bills | Daily Worth – Most people don’t realize that you don’t have to pay full price for hospital services. However, even if insurance is paying most of the bill, you can still be left with an eye-popping nut to cover. Daily Worth provides several actionable steps for negotiating with your medical provider.
5 Ways to Negotiate a Lower Price | Money Crashers – When I was in business school, I took a negotiating class. One of our assignments was to conduct a negotiation over Thanksgiving. So, I dragged my poor wife to the mall for the Black Friday sales, and I had my haggling hat on. Every time we went up to the register to buy something, I started negotiating. It worked. This is an article on how to accomplish what I did without embarrassing your wife like I did.

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Part 5: Alternatives to Cable

How We Went From Cable to Netflix Streaming | Jason Hull – Our story of cutting the cord and the analysis we went through to determine what we wanted to do to fill the “entertainment” void. HINT: there really wasn’t a void. We had just convinced ourselves that there would be one.
Alternatives to Cable Television | This Big Happy – Meg lists out a bunch of alternatives to cable and then goes into detailed analysis of the pros and cons of each choice. I researched several of these alternatives myself, and wish I’d seen this list when we were doing our evaluation. Then again, this post wasn’t around when we were cutting the cord.
Cord-Cutting How-to Guide | BGR – Going from cable to a cable replacement isn’t as easy as calling up your cable provider and giving them the “Dear John” news. This article covers some other things you should think about.
The Best Free TV Streaming Sites in 2012 | ghacks – There are so many options out there that it’s hard to know where to start. Here’s a mighty fine list.

Part 6: Money Saving Tips Around the House

Five Household Money Saving Tips | Penny Pinchin’ Mom – Tracie seems like the McGuyver of keeping your house clean. I could have used her when I had Saturday morning inspections at West Point. She would have saved me a lot of grief.
Top 10 Ways to Save Money on Grocery Shopping | Multiple Mayhem Mamma – Young ‘uns are expensive. Sam knows it, as she claims to be the mother of 5,000 children. These tips keep her out of the poor house.
10 Money Hacks for New Parents | Baby Zone – That little bundle of joy requires diapers, a crib, doctor’s visits, and all sorts of other things. Here’s how to avoid throwing out money along with the nappies.

Part 7: Reducing Material Possessions

Burn All of Your Crap in a Bonfire (If That’s What It Takes) | Man Vs. Debt – There seem to be more “my personal financial journey” blogs out there than you can shake the Internet at. If I had to pick one, it’s Adam Baker’s blog. Why do I feel an affinity for Baker (as he goes by)? He shed all of his unimportant crap. He does what he loves. He ran around the country in an RV. He doesn’t keep up with the Joneses.
How to Sell Your Stuff on eBay | Christian Personal Finance – When I was in graduate school, I used to go to the University of Virginia surplus auction and buy anything that I thought was underpriced so I could sell it on eBay. It was geographical arbitrage. It paid for beer in grad school. It also cluttered up our spare bedroom and annoyed the wife (note a theme here?). Selling stuff on eBay isn’t that hard as long as you have a process. Bob Lotich does a great job of breaking it down into extremely simple concepts, and he has some videos that walk you through it as well.
How to Sell Items on Craigslist Safely and Effectively | The How To Source – We’ve only bought and sold a couple of things on Craigslist, although it was a GREAT source for finding developers for my technology company when we needed them. To be honest, Craigslist has always given me the heebie-jeebies about having some random stranger come by my place to buy my old used socks or whatever I was selling. This is a great article about how to list items on Craigslist and how to avoid the sleazy side of it.
Declutter Clinic: Should I Sell It, Donate It, or Throw It Away? | Get Organized Wizard – We donate things to Goodwill quite often. However, I often see the back side of Goodwill resembling something akin to the garbage dump, as people bring all of their useless crap to Goodwill trying to get a write-off. Michelle Connolly provides simple and effective rules of thumb for answering the question of what to do with the items you’re getting rid of.

Part 8: Finding the Right Bank Account

Finding the Right Bank Account

How to Choose the Right Bank for You | Daily Finance – After you sell everything but the cat on eBay and Craigslist, you’re going to be swimming in dough. You’ll want to deposit it somewhere lest you spend it on a bender in Vegas. Loren Berlin interviewed a bunch of the experts and compiled their best tips here.
Are Credit Unions Foolish? | The Motley Fool – People rant about big banks for a reason. Here’s a look at an alternative to the big banks.

Part 9: Increasing the Value of Your House

5 DIY Projects to Increase Sales Value by More Than $10,000 | Melissa Dittman Tracey – I have absolutely NO skills when it comes to home maintenance and repair. I was a tanker in the Army. My idea of how to fix a tank was to beat it into submission with a sledgehammer. Yet, even I could probably accomplish at least three of these five projects without leaving my place looking like the scene at the end of the movie The Money Pit.
FAQs When Selling Your Home | House to Home Blog – When you get ready to sell your home, this is a good list of questions you’ll probably face and some quick and easy things to do to make it more sellable. Hit Page Down about three times to get to the good stuff – start with “Why can’t we just list the property at a higher price and see what happens?”
Selling Your Home? Consider These Renovations | Encino Patch – The list of what to do reinforces the other articles. However, what this one has, which is valuable, is a list of what not to do. Note: It’d be great to see your reasoning as to why we should or shouldn’t tackle these.

Part 10: Travel, Miles, and Rewards Points

Travel, Miles, and Rewards Points

The Amateur Traveler | Chris Christensen – Great podcasts on nearly every place in the world you’d consider visiting. I highly recommend episodes 109, 188, 243, and 277 (ahem).
The Inconsistent Nomad | Carla Rountree – She has great travel tips and will make your sides hurt from laughing.
The Points Guy – Usually one of the first to spot great deals on how to earn more frequent flier miles and redemption deals.
Flyer Talk – If you’re really into travel hacking, here’s a great resource for finding airline, hotel, rental car, and pretty much any other travel deal you can get. I wouldn’t be surprised to see rickshaw and tuk tuk deals in here.
Vagablogging – Rolf Potts was the original Gen X travel around the world guru. He lives to travel and made his living out of telling the story of the backpacker life. If you contemplate life on the road, here’s where you get your wisdom.

Bonus Section: Mens Sana in Corpore Sano

The Four Hour Body | Tim Ferriss – Learn how Tim Ferriss hacked his own body. Hack yours too.
Leangains | Martin Berkhan – Martin manages to keep about 5.5% body fat all year round without going on crazy diets or homesteading in a gym. He’s blunt and snarky and backed by a TON of scientific research.
How to Lose Fat for Noobs | Body Building – Dieting is pretty simple, actually. Don’t let marketers fool you. Calories out > calories in = weight loss.
Don’t Throw Junk Down Your Gullet | Mike Lieberman’s Ultimate Organic Gardener – Ever wonder how unhealthy the stuff in the supermarket is for you? Follow Mike’s instructions, and worry no more!

Bonus Section 2: Military Money

I am a veteran and I am very supportive of military and veterans’ causes; however, the following websites are specialized, focusing specifically on the unique issues that those who served face.
Military Retirement & Financial Independence | Doug Nordman is a retired naval officer who writes about a lot of military and veteran’s financial issues. He’s also one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to run across.
The Military Wallet | Ryan Guina is an Air Force vet whose blog is one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen on military financial affairs.

Author Profile

John Davis
John Davis is a nationally recognized expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, and identity theft. He has written four books about his expertise in the field and has been featured extensively in numerous media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, CBS News, CNBC, Fox Business, and many more. With over 20 years of experience helping consumers understand their credit and identity protection rights, John is passionate about empowering people to take control of their finances. He works with financial institutions to develop consumer-friendly policies that promote financial literacy and responsible borrowing habits.

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