NerdWallet’s How Do You Do Money? series asks people from various walks of life to share their attitudes and approach to personal finance, with the goal of bringing transparency to discussions surrounding money. This feature is special, instead of an interview with one individual, we’ve highlighted 15 tips from everyday people about money and their best monetary investments, family finances and what financial stability means to them.
What is the best monetary investment you’ve made?
1) “Flowers on June 7th. It’s not a holiday or an anniversary. Flowers for my wife on days she’s not expecting it are worth their weight in gold. I’m not kidding. That’s probably my best monetary investment once or twice a month”. –Austin
2) “I think my best investments have been travel and social opportunities. Some of the best opportunities in my life have come to me through social connections. Jobs, freelance opportunities, even housing have all come to me through friends at one time or another. Having a full, well-rounded life and a wide social network has been the best investment I’ve made, and it wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t said yes to dinners, trips, drinks, trivia nights and shows.” –Evan
3) “Spending money to join and participate in professional organizations like the Society for Professional Journalists and the Alternative Newsweekly Association has been a great investment. It’s cheesy to say, but the networking opportunities are valuable. Plus, conferences are a great way to both get continuing education and be re-energized about your field.” –April
4) “Travel. I took six months off in 2013 to travel around the world and it was a priceless experience.” –E.
5) “Travel, hands down. I’ve been to some pretty amazing places on my own dime, and while it might hurt to press ‘purchase’ on that plane ticket, the experiences I’ve had in Taiwan, Boston, New York City and Southeast Asia (to name a few!) can’t be beat.” –Manda
How do you approach family and finances?
6) “My wife and I started doing this zero-based budget and that changed my life. We are now very intentional about knowing where every dollar goes and talking about it as a couple. It’s difficult sometimes, but I’d rather have a difficult conversation about where to spend it beforehand than after it’s gone. My No. 1 piece of advice to any of my friends who are getting married is to write out a budget no matter how difficult it is.” –Austin
7) “I think having our own savings plus a joint [account] makes things very straightforward. If I want to buy a shiny bit of Apple tech, I shouldn’t have to dip into money we have set aside for us, that feels wrong. It equally feels wrong if the boiler breaks that one of us should have to fork out money, so that would come out of the joint account!” –Toby
8) “[I want to teach my kids] that it’s important to find joy and contentment in simple, accessible things, and to recognize that the luxuries of middle class life should be appreciated but not expected.” –Josh
9) “Three ideas I want to instill in our kids, whenever we have any, is: 1. Work hard for your money and have a budget, even (or really especially) if you aren’t making much. 2. Don’t be ashamed to have big goals. 3. Never be afraid to give away more than you feel comfortable with giving. I think generosity is the opposite of greed. I don’t want to raise greedy children.” –Austin
What does financial stability mean to you?
10) “At some point in the working world I realized no amount of money would make me feel secure. I’m an anxious person; when Worry faces off against Logic, Worry wins. But I’m working on it. My husband and I are meeting with a planner this spring for the first time and I’m hoping she’ll help me devise some strategies for feeling both more financially literate and more comfortable.” –Ester
11) “Having a $1,000 emergency fund and at least $2,000 in the bank readily available with little to no debt. Ultimate stability would include full coverage health insurance.” –Chase
12)”Having enough money that I don’t need to worry about day-to-day expenses, and having enough savings to weather emergencies and otherwise take care of the monetary side of what life throws my way. I also believe that if I were truly stable, I would have enough money to help others significantly, whether it be donating to charities and the community/society I live in or helping other people in the fields I engage in (writing, publishing, game design) realize their dreams.” –Ian
13) “Financial stability is having enough money in the bank that you can do some of the things you want to do guilt-free and know there’s still some in the bank if you need it.” –Cait
14) “Not having to use a credit card ever. I suppose it should mean having a clear vision of how I might ever get to retire, help my kids with college, or weather some sort of prolonged illness. But for now, I’m glad just to be living within my means.” –Josh
15) “Financial stability means having a written plan and sticking to it. I don’t care if you’re making $2 million, you’re broke if you’re living beyond your means.” –Austin