8 min read
Need some real-life personal finance hacks? Here’s a list of some of the best tips from Reddit users
There’s no lack of finance advice out there, but sometimes you just want a good suggestion from a real person. Enter: r/personalfinance. Be it guidance on setting up an emergency fund, navigating treacherous health insurance policies or wealth management advice, nowhere else on the Internet could you find so many varied voices rallying together for the greater financial good. We’ve curated the best tips from top contributors on Reddit Personal Finance, so you can get in the know and stay in the black.
1. Think twice before spending to save. If you're anything like Reddit user “u/IlCaneEUnaMucca,” you’ve fallen into the trap of buying more than you were planning to on items you find “on sale.” Prime Days are a “prime” example:
After all, if you weren’t planning on buying the item in the first place, you’re just spending more money. And everyone knows impulse buying can derail even the best laid finance plans.
2. Skip the store credit card. Yes, the promotional savings on that back-to-school haul may be tempting, but paying the balance off may cost you big in the long run. According to Reddit user u/pretend_im_right, the average time it takes someone to pay off a single purchase is a whopping six years. With APRs climbing as high as 29.99% on some store cards, you’re probably better off ignoring the promo and skipping the extra card.
3. Game the minimum payment system to pay off credit card debt. If you do find yourself in a cycle of credit card debt, you need a new plan. Try “u/mattgetsasixpack”’s trick. If you can afford this month’s minimum payment, make that same payment next month, instead of the new minimum. You’ll end up paying more principal and less interest, thus paying your balance down much faster. This Redditor has done the math for you, and it’s an eye-opener.
4. Watch out for automatic credit card insurance charges. Yup, another credit card tip, but we bet you haven’t heard of this one. Reddit user “u/Underwater_Grilling” noticed small, unrecognizable charges on a store card. After a little research (and many hours of phone support), he got to the ugly truth: he’d been paying for credit card insurance—for a long time.
While there are some legitimate reasons for having credit card insurance—payment protection or interest suspension during a crisis—you certainly don’t want charges piling up that you aren’t aware of. Check your credit card terms and understand what you’re paying. And commit to building an emergency fund so you can do without credit card insurance altogether.
When the homeowner brought the issue up to a friend, they ended up finding a cracked water main that was on the verge of rupturing. This proactive step likely saved thousands of dollars.
5. Your old appliance may just help you get a discount on a new one. Some manufacturers offer discounts on new appliances even if the warranty on your old one is expired. Reddit user u/Shariq1989 saved over $20 just by calling the manufacturer instead of trashing an old garbage disposal.
6. Watch that lead foot. You know you’ll likely pay upwards of $100 for putting the pedal to the metal a little too aggressively. But do you know the true cost of that ticket over time? Reddit user u/Yoda2000675 explains the math:
Maybe getting to your destination five minutes earlier isn’t really worth it.
7. Get prepared for your new bundle of joy. Everyone knows bringing a baby into the world can be expensive. To get an idea of just how much it costs, take a look at one family’s detailed expense report.
Reddit user “u/FatTonyTCL” explains the basics:
Of course, you can’t put a price on the joy of adding to your family. But having enough cash set aside before junior arrives can give you peace of mind and make enjoying your baby that much easier.
8. Save cash at tax time by following this Reddit user’s advice and making sure you get the free-file option provided by the IRS (US tax filers making less than $65,000 a year are eligible). Check out IRS.gov for the most current information.
9. Manage your own student loans. It can be tempting to sign up for services claiming to handle your student loans for you, but the cost just isn’t worth it. Reddit user “u/ANGR1ST” explains from experience that you can work with your lenders for free on your own.
Take some time to contact your lenders yourself. After all, the last thing you need is to add a management fee on top of your debt burden.
10. Take the long view on retirement investments. Investing for the long term requires a long view. In other words, patience has its rewards. Reddit user “u/mart1373” reminds investors not to panic and sell during an economic downturn. Solid advice for anyone invested in stocks.
11. Don’t forget that unemployment is taxable. A timely reminder from Reddit user “u/nategolon.” If you’re one of the millions of Americans who have filed for unemployment as the coronavirus pandemic hit, don’t be tempted to treat that relief like “free money.” Unemployment income can be considered taxable income. It pays to do some research and decide whether it’s smart to opt for upfront withholding and avoid an expensive surprise on your tax bill.
12. Be a savvy car shopper. It’s no secret that most people dread the hassle of buying a car. Do yourself a favor the next time you walk into a dealership and follow the checklist compiled by Reddit user “u/yipskip.” You’ll learn to understand pricing practices, tricks on finding a good dealership, recognize financing pitfalls, and preparing to negotiate the best deal.
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