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Nonobvious Personal Finance Tips and Tricks

  • Every two weeks, pay off all your credit cards
    • As long as you pay every two weeks, you don’t have to worry about the due dates for every single account. If you make this cycle, you’ll always pay on time.
    • In case you missed the cycle or something happens with the payment itself, your chances are less that it will actually be late.
  • Read up on your credit card perks
    • Most of us at least have one credit card, but we may not realize the kind of perks you get with it beyond the points.
    • Many offer insurance on purchases, especially those for travel
    • You may be spending needlessly on things like rental car insurance when all you need to do is pay for the regular fees with the right card.
  • The zero balance trick
    • Choose a dollar amount that is your zero balance so you’ll never overdraft or have to beg for payday to come around.
    • For example, if my number is 100 and my bank account has $1000, I tell myself i have $900.
    • I use a spreadsheet to add a little money to this number every month, doing the calculation automatically so I never see my real balance.
    • Whenever I get close to “0” (not the real zero) and forget about that automatic bill payment, the slush money makes up the difference.
    • Remember, you can always just ask your bank to take off overdraft “protection”
  • Set up a savings account you can use as a zero interest credit card.
    • For example, I’ll keep $2,000 in a savings account allowing myself to take money out of it like a credit card–where I obligate myself to pay it back in monthly payments.
    • Great for discounts where you must pay a year up front to get a lower monthly rate. Whenever I get a gym membership or sign up for an online service, I just put it on the “credit card.”
    • Many online banking systems allow you to set up recurring transfers between checking and savings.
  • Hoard employee perks
    • Buy transit cards pretax
    • Retirement contribution matching
    • Not just gym discounts but thousands of weirdly specific discounts on everyday things many HR companies offer.
    • Sometimes health insurance can be used for things like massages!