Financial tips are everywhere. You can’t turn on the TV, open a newspaper, or browse online without finding an expert telling you how to invest, save, or improve your credit score.
Much of this expert advice is the same. Sometimes it seems repetitive. Investment experts advise you to diversify your portfolio. Credit experts tell you to pay your bills on time and keep your credit utilization low. Saving experts remind you to think twice and take a time out before making an impulse purchase.
There are good reasons for much of this repetition. Advice often gets repeated because it’s good advice, based on facts and impartial analysis. Still, it can get tiring to hear the same tips and suggestions over and over again. What if there’s other good advice out there that we aren’t hearing?
If you’re looking for suggestions you may not have heard yet, we’ve got you covered. We asked 15 professionals for their #1 unconventional financial tips. Here’s what they had to offer.
Unconventional Financial Tips You Need to Know
Let’s take a look at the unconventional financial tips our expert panel produced.
The Logical Dollar
Use Your Credit Cards
Many financial experts recommend that you should cut up all your credit cards, but my recommendation is to actually use these to your advantage. Specifically, I recommend putting all of the expenses you can on your credit cards, as this is a great way to secure a range of bonuses such as cashback or air miles.
The big caveat here is that you should only do this if you can pay off the balance in full at the end of the month. Otherwise, you will be charged interest on your purchases, which negates any of the other benefits that can come from doing this.
It’s true that not everyone can manage their credit cards effectively, and it’s those people who may wish to follow the traditional advice to cut up their cards. But for those who know they can control their spending and stick to an amount that they can afford, using credit cards can be a great addition to your overall money management.
Co-founder and COO
Teach Children to Use Credit Cards
This one is for the benefit of your kids. I think an often overlooked and unconventional money tip is teaching young children how to use credit cards wisely. If you have a good handle on your credit, add your child as an authorized user to your credit card as soon as you can, help them build a good credit score by the time they leave the home, teach them the importance of living within a budget, and to always pay monthly credit card bills in full. Just by being on your credit card, they start building a credit history which increases their credit score.
Many parents avoid teaching the upcoming generation how to use credit cards altogether, which can then lead to misuse and poor decisions as soon as they are on their own and find themselves in need of a credit card and a good credit score to do many things in life.
Founder and Executive Chairman
Use Your Savings
People have this notion that they shouldn’t touch their savings, no matter what. And they feel extreme guilt when they do — so much so, that they’d rather charge something on their credit card or get a payday loan than use money from their savings account. Yes, it allows your savings to grow, but you know what else keeps growing? The amount of money you owe and the amount you waste on interest payments.
Use your savings instead. In fact, set aside a small percentage of your paycheck for short-term savings that you actually use. And ask your employer if they happen to have a program to incentivize emergency savings. Many do. Then, feel proud (not guilty!) when you dip into your savings to pay for unexpected expenses, bills that are due before payday, or even splurges. You’ve earned that money and by using your savings instead of credit, you are likely to have more money in your pocket … and more money to add to your savings, too.”
Senior Industry Analyst
Use Micropayments to Manage Credit Card Debt
One of the unconventional ways to dig yourself out of credit card debt is to make micropayments throughout the month.
Most people believe that credit card payments can only be made when the bill comes due. But that is not true. Micropayments are smaller payments you make to the credit card company throughout the month.
An example: a couple was thinking about going out to dinner and a movie. But rather than spending $75, what if they ate at home and rented a movie? They might save $50. If they took that money and immediately made an online $50 payment to their credit card balance, their debt would forever be lowered by $50. If they made a habit of doing this each time they made a conscious effort to save money, they’d be surprised how much their debt would decrease.
In addition to paying off your debt faster, micropayments will also help lower your interest payments. Most issuers calculate interest based on your average daily balance during the month. You’ll lower your average balance by making smaller payments during the month. Smaller interest penalties also mean more money can be devoted to paying off the balance.
Micropayments may also help raise your credit score. By making more smaller payments throughout the month, you will be avoiding late payments and using slightly less of your available credit, both of which are important factors in increasing your credit score.
Finally, micropayments may have a beneficial effect on reducing your financial stress.
Mark J. Stevens
Stevens Wealth Strategies
Hire a Financial Coach Instead of a Financial Planner
Many people think that if they want expert help with their finances they should hire a financial planner, but as a 30-year financial planning veteran, I can tell you that this myth is a disservice to many. Hiring a financial coach might be the better choice.
According to the Consumer Financial Bureau: “A financial coach is a trained professional who collaborates with and guides their clients to reach their financial goals. The process is personalized and non-judgmental. Financial coaches provide support, encouragement, accountability, and tools to help people make informed decisions.”
Reasons to consider working with a financial coach:
- Financial coaches focus on the fundamental building blocks that eventually lead to needing to hire a financial planner or wealth manager.
- Many financial advisors that say they do financial planning also sell products that may be a conflict of interest – unlike most financial coaches, who do not sell any financial instruments (e.g., stocks, bonds, mutual funds).
- Most financial planners require clients to have fairly high incomes or investment levels to make it cost-effective and a good fit.
- Many can accomplish great financial successes working with financial coaches, for less money, and avoid unnecessary fees or commissions.
Mainstream marketing and media overcomplicate finding personal financial solutions. Most people just need to focus on cash flow and the debt management issues tied directly to their personal goals — that is at the heart of the financial coaching process.
Debt Isn’t Always Bad
I am very much a believer of the unconventional school of thought that not all debt is bad debt and being in debt or being short of money should stop you from investing.
By this, I mean that a large proportion of the population believes that any form of debt is bad and you should avoid it at all costs – I disagree. There are some debts such as student debt, mortgages, and any investment into a potentially higher returning project that you SHOULD do in order to improve your financial wellbeing.
I would advise that if you see an opportunity to increase your income or assets such as taking out a student loan to go to university/an equivalent; taking out a mortgage to own a house or investing your savings into the stock market or a side hustle that you should definitely do it.
Just ensure you also have a steady income, control of your money/debts (with a budget), and an emergency fund, and then all other finances you have you should look to better yourself or your situation. To do this, you should always avoid (or cut down) spending on depreciating assets such as clothes, cars, and food where you can find cheaper equivalents.
Saving Money Isn’t Hard
People who say that they don’t save money because it’s hard are wrong, saving money is the easy part.
As a content marketer for a B2B eCommerce payment processing company, the topic of money is part of my job. The way I see it, money is just a means to an end, it lets you get the stuff you want in the world. The hard part of saving isn’t the saving, it’s deciding what you want, prioritizing the things you want, and making a plan to get the things you want. After you know what you want and how to get it, it’s just a matter of carrying out your plan, it’s almost automatic at that point.
The next time you hear someone say that saving money is hard you can tell them that saving is the easy part once they’ve decided what they want and how they’re going to get it.
Personal Finance Blogger
Off Hour Hustle
Avoid Cards with Annual Fees
I personally refuse to get a credit card that has an annual fee. As someone who is a minimalist and doesn’t spend much, the annual fee is never worth it for me for the increased rate of return on rewards. People should always do the math before getting an annual fee credit card as you actually have to spend a considerable amount to break even with a no annual fee card that gives fewer rewards.
Annual fee credit cards also make you unnecessarily spend more just to reach a certain number of points. They also make you take advantage of benefits such as food delivery services that you may not have necessarily used. Ask yourself, would you be ordering this food if you didn’t have free delivery? Would it have been cheaper to eat in?
Make sure the annual fee credit card you’re considering is actually giving you more points or rewards even after the fee. Many people get suckered into high rewards points and neglect to do the comparison.
Use Your Cards
If you have self-control, use credit cards for EVERYTHING.
This tip definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you have the control to avoid carrying a balance, credit cards are amazing. Most years I get at least $1,000 cashback, on top of points I save with other cards, and I’ve gotten 3x that on years where I used good promotions. Lots of cards also come with extended warranties, free rental car insurance, and other perks that just amplify their value. You also don’t usually need or want a card with a high annual fee, but a $100 fee or two might come with far more value, especially if it’s an airline card for an airline you use. Make sure you pay the full amount each month, if you have enough cushion in your checking account, set them all to auto-pay just to make sure you never miss a payment.
Yes, credit cards can get you in trouble if you rack up debt. Yes, they aren’t for everyone. And YES, if you can use them well, they are invaluable.
2 Stories about credit card perks.
A dozen years ago, I rented a car for a road trip across the country, and used my American Express as the insurance, waiving other car insurance. When I hit an animal in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, it was as smooth as such an event could ever be – I filed a report with the rental company, gave American Express the info, and they handled literally everything, it didn’t take me any more time, and I didn’t pay a penny.
When my wife and I first got married, we bought her a laptop – shortly before the end of the AMEX extended warranty, her mouse button click stopped feeling right but still worked and the bezel around the screen had separated a little. I filed a claim and was told I’d probably need to take it to a shop for repair. Within a week, AMEX had refunded my account for the full purchase price and let me keep the laptop.
Lead Bankruptcy Attorney
A Bankruptcy Law Firm, LLC
Financial Gurus Aren’t Always Right
One of the most influential financial gurus would undoubtedly be Dave Ramsey. A lot of his advice is great, and all of his advice can work really well for some people, but for those that are willing to put some time and thought into money management and are able to control spending impulses, there are things that Ramsey preaches that I wouldn’t recommend.
First, Ramsey is very anti-credit card. This makes sense for individuals with a spending problem who are prone to impulse buys. If you can control your spending, a credit card is actually a great tool, because you can leverage the points or cash back they offer. As long as you’re paying your credit card bills on time, you’ll be earning free money or rewards for purchases you were already planning to make.
Second, Ramsey is a big proponent of paying off your mortgage early. There are, certainly, psychological advantages to paying off your mortgage quickly. You no longer stress about the debt you have. It also cuts down your living expenses, which makes it easier to afford unexpected expenses should they arise. However, that $150,000+ you use to pay off your mortgage could make you far more money if it were invested instead. Your mortgage interest rate is likely well below the annual rate of return from the stock market. You’d gain far more than you’d be paying in interest, which makes keeping your money a better investment. Again, this isn’t for everyone, but for those who don’t have anxiety over debt and have the ability to be disciplined investors, not paying off your mortgage early is the smarter money move.
Simply Know Money
Invest in Real Estate
Individuals who make low incomes should invest heavily in real estate and not the stock market to become wealthy. Most financial advisors recommend building retirement accounts over 30 or 35 years, but that just isn’t possible for a low-income earner if they want to retire comfortably.
If you want to have $1,000,000 in retirement you would need to invest $1,000 a month for 30 years (assuming a 6% return) which for someone making $3,000 a month is nearly impossible. But since most low-income earners have a steady job, they can use bank leverage to get into rental real estate with very little money out of pocket which can snowball to a comfortable retirement.
In other words, you can invest your own money in stocks and bonds to build $1,000,000 in assets, or you can invest the bank’s money in houses (or other forms of real estate) but still own a $1,000,000 portfolio at the end of the day.
Co-Founder & Marketing Director
You Don’t Need Credit Cards to Build Credit
The idea that having credit cards helps you grow your credit score has never sat well with me. You don’t need to sink yourself into debt in order to build a credit score. On the contrary, one needs to know when to take debt, and which manageable debts at that. Expensive credit card debts won’t help you build a good credit score, they’ll help you dig a deeper debt hole instead.
Even though I have credit cards, I only use them when I absolutely have to. In hindsight, I built my credit history from other types of credit, which are cheaper and more manageable than credit card debts. Credit cards are convenient for everyday living and expenses, but the idea that they are must-have is absolutely wrong in my opinion.
Raines Insurance Group
Use Whole Life Insurance
Conventional wisdom along with many in the media, etc. say that purchasing whole life insurance is a bad idea. But whole life insurance allows you to build up tax-deferred cash value each and every year at a guaranteed interest rate.
In addition, a dividend-paying whole life policy can pay dividends each year. What is more exciting is a whole life policy can allow you to grow your money tax-deferred and take out your money tax-free via a loan provision. This safe, conservative vehicle can do much more than just provide a death benefit for your family, it can provide you with additional tax-free income for life.
Topp Casino Bonus
Sell Your Car
My unconventional tip to save money is to sell your car. I sold my car off this pandemic and saved a lot of money that I could never have imagined. Unbelievable right? But it’s true.
This might not be a feasible option for many people. Especially if you live far from your place of employment and there is no public transport available. But there are many people who are living without a vehicle in order to save additional costs on gas, insurance, and car payments.
Alternative options to replace having a car include riding public transportation, carpooling as well as biking to the place you need to go. Another benefit of getting rid of your car is you can focus on your health. You can either walk or ride a bike to get to your destination. This might seem strange and convenient, but it worked really great for me and I am glad I sold off my car.
Invest First, Pay Debt Later
Investing is more important than paying down debt.
This tip isn’t universally accurate, but so much emphasis is placed on paying off debt as the number one priority that people don’t stop to evaluate if that’s the best way to use their extra income.
Debt with a low interest rate is usually better to hang onto and pay off slowly so you can invest in something that yields a higher return rate. For example, if your car loan has a three percent interest rate and you have the opportunity to invest with a 10% return, keep making your monthly car payments, but put your extra money into the investment.
Paying off debt is reasonable, and investing is good. You really can’t go wrong with either, but sometimes investing is the wiser financial decision.
Let’s Sum That Up
Not all of these tips apply to all people. Some of them are contradictory: for example, some experts advise using your credit card at every opportunity, some suggest using it as little as possible or even not having one at all.
Those differences don’t mean one expert is wrong and the other is right. Each may be right for a different person. If you have the income and the discipline to pay off every bill in full and on time, using your card and claiming its perks makes good sense. If you don’t, leaving the card at home or not getting one would be a better move.
If you’re looking for unconventional financial tips, they’re out there. You’ll find some here and more if you look deeper into the world of financial advice. The key to using these tips effectively is understanding your unique financial situation and selecting the tips that best suit your needs!
What’s your #1 unconventional financial tip? Let us know in the comments below!