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

Save the dead presidents!

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 in the horizon without a lot of sweat and effort. A lot of the good things in life are earned through sacrifice and cutting and 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: Couponing

Part 4: Negotiating for Discounts

Part 5: Alternatives to Cable

Part 6: Money Saving Tips Around the House

Part 7: Reducing Material Possessions

Part 8: Finding the Right Bank Account

Part 9: Increasing the Value of Your Home

Part 10: Travel, Miles, and Rewards Points

Bonus Section: Mens Sana in Corpore Sano

Bonus Section 2: Military Money

Part 1: 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 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 guaranteed 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 the 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 which 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 which 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 of 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 writeoff. 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

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 why we should or shouldn’t tackle these.

Part 10: 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 instruction, 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 veterans 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.

Published by

Jason Hull was the co-founder of Broadtree Partners, a firm that acquires $1-5MM EBITDA companies. He also was the co-founder of open source search consultancy OpenSource Connections, a premier Solr and ElasticSearch firm. He and his wife FIREd (financial independence retire early) at 46 and 45, respectively. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business. He held a CFP certification from 2015 - 2021. You can read more about him in the About Page. If you live in Johnson County, Texas or the surrounding areas, he and his wife are cash buyers of Johnson County, Texas houses.

26 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Day-to-Day Finances

  1. Jason, Thanks, this is a great idea. Just recently I was thinking about how there are so many thousands of personal finance blogs with so much noise, and it would be great if someone put together a list of gems. Those Carnival lists don’t count. As I’m moving back to the US soon, I’m starting to think about some of the matters here that I haven’t considered for quite some time… credit cards, reward points, cable TV alternatives, etc. Thanks! Wade

    1. Wade–

      Thanks, and glad to be of service! For the cable TV alternative, we personally use PlayOn and originally had an Internet-enabled Blu-Ray player (we eventually got a TV which did the same thing as our 10th anniversary present from my wife’s mother). That way, we get Amazon Prime videos, Netflix, and ESPN3 all incorporated in one place.

      Looking forward to having you back on this side of the pond!

      1. Thanks Jason. Sounds like you have a good plan.

        I think the only shows I care about are on NBC and Fox, and my wife mostly just likes the Food Network. Seems like we can do something similar to you, and I was just noticing that American audiences can watch Food Network shows on their webpage. If that can be streamed through the TV, we should be all set. Definitely beats mindlessly flipping through TV channels.

      2. Jason, I’m right there with you regarding the lack of cable TV. My wife and I cut the cord over two years ago and we haven’t missed it. We have an over the air antenna and get a lot of channels, but we rarely watch network TV (I usually watch it during the football season, and the random baseball game in the summer). Other than that, we watch a little Amazon Prime, or the random RedBox movie. In all, my wife and I might watch 2 to 5 hours of TV a week. My daughter might watch a similar amount of TV during the day, but I’m at work at those times.

        Thanks for mentioning The Military Wallet, and thanks for the compliment!

        1. That’s pretty much what we do. Between Amazon Prime, Netflix, and ESPN3, along with our over-the-air antenna, we have most of our TV needs covered. I’m amazed at the quality of HDTV over the air. It’s come a long way from UHF/VHF!

  2. Hey, thanks for including our “Burn All Your Crap in a Bonfire” post from Man Vs. Debt!! That rocks! I made sure to pass that on to the rest of our team (I’m the editor and community manager, Joan). This is a great list – I’ll definitely be sharing!

    1. Hey, Joan! I know who you are! Thanks for dropping by and saying hi! Philip Taylor is bringing some copies of I’m Fine, Thanks to our next FINCON meetup; I’m looking forward to watching it!

  3. That’s a cool guide. Thanks for including my Receipt Reference Technique. I can’t wait to look through all of the nicely sequenced posts.

    1. Thanks for saving me from the endless cycle of throwing away what was once perfectly good food as opposed to making sure it went in the right place – our mouths!

  4. Thanks so much for including my post for Cord Cutters! Streaming continues to gain momentum for entertainment and as a viable alternative to a cable TV subscription; I am honored to be part of this terrific post!

    1. Anne–It’s a great post! I tell you, my life changed for the better once we got rid of our cable, and I was happy to share your guide to show others how to overcome their internal Monkey Brain scripts that they can’t live without it!

        1. I didn’t realize you were an Armor officer! I was as well. My last job before I ETSed was designing the structure and helping determine the vehicle for the (then) Medium Weight Brigade, which later became known as the Stryker Brigade. Never did Cav. I wasn’t fast enough or smart enough to be a scout! 🙂

          1. Heh! I doubt that. I served in a Stryker brigade, including the first Strykers to go to Afghanistan. Very cool!

  5. Thanks for the inspiration to cut the cord… I finally made the jump last week, and it feels great!! Spent around $180 for 2 Roku boxes and will spend about $15 a month for Netflix and Hulu Plus.

    Cable/internet bill went from $170 to $55, and I couldn’t be happier!!

    Roku boxes will pay for themselves in two months, and then its pure money in the bank (aka, the Vegas fund!)

    great article as usual


    1. Cutting the cord was one of the best quality of life decisions that we made. We have time to ourselves now, and we choose what to do rather than defaulting to the TV. We did get a HD airwave receiver, so we still get a bunch of local channels for free, meaning we could watch the Super Bowl at home in HD. The savings were nice; our travel budget got a little boost as a result.

  6. Wow, Jason, what a list. You have been busy. I look forward to checking out some of these blogs. thanks.

  7. This was quite comprehensive on managing and saving your money. Thanks.

    Although I have had cable in the past, I have not for a few years. I don’t watch that much tv now. I do use antenna for what I can get locally and have checked movies out at the library.

    Amazon Prime sounded interesting but to be honest, I want to pay off more bills before I start something like that.

    1. Hi Jeannie–

      Thanks for dropping by!

      We have a $30 HD over-the-air antenna which we use, and you can hardly tell the difference between it and cable. Actually, it’s better, since we were too cheap to buy HD cable! 🙂

      Checking movies out at the library is a great idea!

      We debated Amazon Prime for quite a while. Prices on Amazon are about the same as our local store, so it really is a just in time convenience thing, although with the movies coming up on Amazon Prime, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a year or two, we can completely ditch Netflix.

  8. Lots of good money saving tips and resources here, well done.

    There so many ways to lower costs if just a little time and focus is spent figuring out what techniques to use. For instance, investors position themselves to make more informed financial decisions when they take time to study various stock option trading strategies, research different fund managers, review corporate financials etc.

    No matter what area in finance one is seeking to improve, whether it be budgeting, spending or tax planning, there are often multiple methods and ways to approach financial decision making. Each technique is also likely to have specific advantages and disadvantages.

    1. Thanks, AWB!

      I personally believe that when people read information about funds, options strategies, SEC filings, and the like, they convince themselves of skills they might not possess. After all, the rising tide of overall investor knowledge has increased the role of luck in investing in individual securities.

      But, yes, there are a lot of ways to skin the proverbial cat. It’s why we financial planners exist! 🙂

      Thanks for commenting and have a great weekend!

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