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14 Powerful Personal Money Management Tips (Get What You Want)

Powerful tricks and personal money management tips you need to funnel more of your money towards what you want.

If looking at your money digits makes you want to ditch the real world for a 3-hour Netflix binge, then even the best personal money management tips from Warren Buffett's own lips are not going to help you.

woman in zebra top smiling with cash and calculator, text overlay "personal money management tips these are powerful"

You have to want to be around your money. To be curious about how to handle it. To get EXCITED about what it can do for you.

Does that sound a bit like a finding a unicorn in your backyard?

Stick around.

Making personal money management a task you're magnetically drawn to do – because it's fun and makes you feel in control – is the number one goal here.

Whether you’re a beginner, or realized your financial problems have gotten the best of you at 2:57 a.m. last night – these personal money management tips will make you feel in control, and direct more of your hard-earned dollars to getting what you want.

Personal Money Management Tips

These are the best personal money management tips for beginners, students, adults, and young adults – you can’t go wrong here.

And they're are all based around the three basic steps to better money management:

  • Getting a grip on your current money management situation
  • Cleaning it up to run efficiently
  • Adding in some smart strategies to get more of what you want

1. Come Up with Your One-Word Financial Statement

Forget about your actual financial statements at the moment. Because feelings can do much more to anchor you in a rut OR steer you in the right direction than a sheet of numbers.

The One-Word Financial Statement is an easy way to figure out how you feel about your finances right now, and how you want to feel about them (i.e., what to work towards).

  • Come up with one word about how you’re feeling right now about the state of your money life.
  • Come up with one word about how you want to feel about your finances.

When I did this powerful exercise with a group of women, I got the following answers for their current state of how they feel towards their finances: “overwhelmed”, “distracted”, “nervous”, “pathetic”, all the way to “autopilot”.

Remember that the words you choose to describe yourself, your money situation, and your reality is…your reality. If you ever want to understand someone else's world, listen to the words they use. If you ever want to change your world, listen to the words you use…then change them up.

Pssst: curious what mine is? “Choices”.

2. Use a Money Goal as Your Anchor

What is the best way to manage personal finances?

When you’ve got something exciting to work towards, or have identified a pain you want to quickly get away from (like having debtors, or changing that word you just came up with), then you’ve got the kind of motivation you need to manage your money.

Anchor your personal money management strategies by a money goal.

Here are examples of the 5 types of financial goals:

  • Pay for your next summer vacation
  • Pay tuition to finish your college degree
  • Save up money towards a healthy retirement down the road
  • Pay off remaining debt to free up cash flow for other things
  • Save up for a down payment on a home
  • Fill in the blank with your wildest, money-costing desires

A goals-based approach is the best way to manage personal finances, as it automatically focuses you on managing your money in a way that you’re able to use as much of it as possible for the desired results you want out of life.

Once you know what yours is, wave it loud and proud!

Check out these articles to help you hone your financial goal:

3. Remove All Obstacles Stopping You from Sitting Down to Manage Your Money

There are physical and mental obstacles out there that are dead-set on us not accomplishing what we want to.

And when it comes to managing your money? You know, actually sitting down to take action on finances?

It’s no different.

You’ll want to remove all of the possible obstacles in your life to actually get in there and get the money work done.

Two examples include:

Not only that, but you’ll want to clean up where you actually use and manage your money.

I'm so into organizing that when I found a free de-cluttering course called Queen Sweep I hopped on-board right away.

One of the lessons during the “Money Broom” week was to make your wallet clutter-free, with your cash tidied up and facing the same direction.

It's sort of the first action you can take to clean up your money and pay better attention to it (FYI: Suze Orman says that your wallet is a physical representation of your relationship with your money).

Now, let’s turn to what I like to call your Accounts Landscape.

4. Get a Snapshot of your Accounts Landscape

How can you manage your money effectively when you've got accounts all over the place that don't all talk to each other (i.e. they aren't linked up)?

We’re going to have your financial system all put together, wrapped up in a bow. This will make how to manage your money wayyyyy easier for you. But before we can do that, we’ve got to do some decluttering.

Here’s where I encourage you to do a “financial accounts dump” by writing down all of your financial accounts on one list. Everything that we're working with – we want the whole picture.

Here are the types of accounts you likely have:

  • Checking Accounts: Individual, Joint
  • Savings Accounts: Individual, Joint
  • Health Savings Account (HSA)
  • Credit Card Accounts
  • Mortgage/Escrow
  • Employer Retirement Accounts: 401(k), 403(b), pensions, Simple IRA, SEP, SARSEP, 457, and 409A
  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA): Roth/Traditional, or Individual 401(k) for self-employed people
  • Non-Retirement Investment Accounts: Bonds, stocks, mutual funds, Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
  • Insurance Accounts: Auto, Home, Life, Health
  • Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs)
  • Long-Term Care Policy
  • Annuities
  • Children's Financial Accounts: College Savings plans (529s), Coverdell ESA (Education Savings Account), Checking, Savings, Retirement Accounts, Custodial Accounts

Pro tip: Having trouble recalling all of your financial accounts or want to make sure you’re covering your bases? Check out your free annual credit report (annualcreditreport.com) and see what shows up.

Now that we know what all is in your account landscape, let’s work on cleaning then glammin’ things up.

5. Detox Your Financial Accounts

Take these account maintenance steps:

  1. Shed the Unnecessary: Get rid of accounts that no longer serve you. In some cases, you'll need to combine accounts. For example, an account you opened just for the opening bonus that you no longer need, or nixing your duplicate accounts after combining finances a few years ago with your spouse, or you have a litter of 401(k)s from employers you’ve left over the years and haven’t combined these into one place.
  2. Review Your Access + Security for Each Remaining Account: We're talking about one of your precious resources: your money. So, we need to make sure that the right people have access to it, that you're able to easily access it, and that it is as secure as it can be. Make sure you know how to sign into each of your accounts online for easy access, and that the right people can access the accounts. Tighten up security by changing passwords that haven’t been changed in years, as well as set up an easy way to remember all these passwords (I personally use the free online software, LastPass).
  3. Assess Coverages + Protections: Make sure your accounts all reflect your current needs. For example, is your life insurance adequate now for how your life has changed since you opened it? Does your insurance policy include your wedding rings and home renovations completed since buying it? Does your checking account have overdraft protection (or not – I like to keep ours shut off)?

Once you've got everything cleaned up, go ahead and have them all automatically fill in data in one dashboard. I use the Free Empower dashboard for this. The information is priceless.

6. Infuse Glam into Your Account Names

Checking account, savings account, IRA account…these names don't exactly scream “feed me money!”

I challenge you to give your accounts benefit-driven names that electrify you.


…”Margaritas on Mexican Beach”

…”Freedom from 9-5 Fund”

…”Get Out of Apartment Fund”

…”$5,000 Big Ones”

And as you reach your goals or come up with new ones, change the name again.

7. Update Your Net Worth Every 6 Months

I am a FIRM believer that your self-worth does not equal your net worth.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let me tell you why tracking your net worth can be so game-changing.

If there was an easy report card for money management – one that you could track quickly, and would give you a snapshot “grade” for how you’re doing – it would be your net worth.

And this works whether you’ve got debt, or none. Whether you’re in the red (and you're just working your way back to “0”), or you’re already in the black and plugging away.

For the first 6 years or so, I updated my net worth manually (about every six months). But then, I found Empower.

It’s a completely free dashboard that gives you a free snapshot of your finances. Not only that, but it automatically updates your net worth. Score!

Here’s a whole article on ways to use this free portfolio check-up and money management tool to further your finances.

Speaking of tracking…

8. Track, Track, and Track Some More

How will you know how you’re doing financially? How will you know if all these personal money management tips and strategies are working for you – meaning, enabling you to work towards the money goals you have?

By tracking.

We discussed the importance of tracking your net worth.

Now, it’s time to discuss how to track things on a more granular, day-by-day level.

Use these resources:

9. Make Your Money Work for You…While You're Snoozing

There's nothing better than your money working for you (aka earning you even more moolah) while you get to play, eat, and sleep.

The key to making your money sweat harder than Richard Simmons in HD is setting up a few things that will continue to work without your input.

Here are money moves to make in order to put your money to work for YOU:

  • Open up a savings account with the highest interest rate you can find (hint: online savings accounts have much higher interest rates than brick-and-mortar ones).
  • Open up an interest-bearing checking account so that each month before your paycheck is divvied up to bills, you get to earn a few bucks that are yours to keep.
  • Link your credit, debit, and loyalty store cards up to a UPromise account for free, and earn FREE cash towards college for a member of your family. And yes…you can sign yourself up as the benefactor if your student loans are with Sallie Mae through the UPromise Loan Link program. Each $10 in free cash goes directly off of your student loans. And this is on top of your credit/debit/store loyalty cards rewards programs!

10. Gamify it…because a Little Competition is Fun

Guess what game I play with our money? I'll give you a hint: it's called “For Keeps”.

Basically, I find a gazillion +1 ways to keep as much of our hard-earned paychecks as possible…while still getting the things and experiences that we want out of life.

Having played this game for over 20+ years now, I can honestly say I'm quite good at it.

There are other games you can play to liven things up, such as saving money games for adults, or counting down your debt repayment done date using a visual. You can create a fundraiser-type visual where each month you get to color in a slot representing another chunk of debt paid, or another chunk of savings made.

My friend Helen and I also used to compete with each other (in a good way) over electric bills. Knowing that we would show our stuff once a month meant we were both more motivated to turn lights off after leaving rooms and unplug vampire appliances after use.

It was actually a lot of fun!

11. Set Your Money Up to Surprise You with Gifts

Yes, your money can give you surprise gifts.

You can funnel your spending through a rewards credit card and rack up the points for doing so. If you need a bit more control over your spending, then try a cash-back debit card that is linked to your checking account.

My husband and I have racked up over $3,000 in free gift cards since 2006, as well as $200 in cash by using these methods (did I mention we've gotten several free roundtrip tickets from signing up for certain credit card bonuses? Travelling for free is way cool).

You can funnel your purchases through Fetch and iBotta (at the same time, by the way), and get rewarded for buying groceries.

12. Get Smart about Breaking Financial Guidelines

If something doesn't work for you, you're extremely likely to stop doing it.

Common sense, right?

Even though it's called “personal” finance management, 90% of the financial information available on the internet is like a piece of boxed vanilla cake – oldie but a goodie, yes, but lacking some flavor.

Let’s face it: money is not a one-size-fits-all subject.

I'm not dogging the advice that is circulating out there – we can all agree that things like “spend less than you earn”, and “max out your retirement savings each year” are golden as far as your financial health is concerned.

But I am saying that too much of the time you're not given ways to tweak these Benjamin Franklin-era pieces of advice to work for you and your family.

There are general guidelines and rules that, if followed, will get you far. But it’s hard to listen to regurgitated financial rules if you are not even close to being able to follow through.

For example, if I told you to go further or to push past your $50,000 wall in typical annual savings this year, you’d probably tune out pretty quickly, right *with a roll of the eyes*? Many of us don’t have that much in an account, let alone are able to save it on an annual basis.

But tuning out is precisely what you should not do.

The fact is, we are all at various levels. You're trying to figure out how to get better at managing your money, just like I'm trying to figure out how to manage my money, and both may look differently.

Let me show you what I mean with several examples of how my husband Paul and I added the “personal” back into our personal finances…and still benefited from the sound advice:

Regurgitated Financial Advice #1: Max Out Your IRA Each Year by Making Equal Monthly Contributions

Max out your Individual Retirement Accounts each year, which means contributing $6,500 per account. Do this by contributing an equal amount each month ($541.66 per account, or $6,500 divided by 12 months) for dollar cost averaging purposes (you can find out more about what the heck dollar cost averaging is here).

Why it Didn't Work for Us: Since we live pretty far from my family, we typically travel to see them during the end of year holidays for an extended period of time. Several years ago I figured out that it would be great to have extra cash flow in the last two months of the year.

How We Tweaked it: We still max out both of our IRAs; however, we do it in 10 months instead of 12 to open up funds at the most expensive time of year for us. That means we pay $650/month for 10 months per account, and make no contributions in November and December.

How You Can Further Tweak this for your Personal Situation: Do you have summers off, or work seasonally? You can choose which months to shut off (if your contributions are automated), or you can just manually not contribute certain months. Divide your maxed out contribution ($6,500 per person for Roth/Traditional IRAs) by the number of months you wish to contribute to find out how much to automate those months.

Regurgitated Financial Advice #2: Don't Be in a Hurry to Pay Off Your Low-Interest Student Loans

Student loan debt is ‘good debt' that typically comes with a lower interest rate, plus you get an interest rate tax deduction at the end of the year so the advice is that you should not be in a hurry to pay it off when you could be using those extra payments for something else.

Why it Didn't Work for Us: We loathe being in debt. Once we got engaged in 2009, we made a huge push to pay off the remainder of my $36,000 in student loans as well as the remainder of Paul's debts to start our marriage off right.

How We Tweaked it: In May 2010 we came to the conclusion that our savings account and the amount owed on my student loans would intersect sometime in August 2010. So, we went for it and got rid of the last $8,000 in student loans all in one fell swoop.

The reason why we took this rash move is because we had backup plans in case an emergency crept up while rebuilding our emergency fund. For example, we had $1,500 sitting on the sidelines in a money market fund at a brokerage firm that we could easily liquidate for emergencies. We also each have Roth IRAs. While we would never want to tap these for money, we knew that we could take out the contributions we made tax and penalty-free in the event of an emergency. Finally, we also had established credit lines. Of course, it would have stunk to go back into debt right after getting out of it, but we saw these as a last resort to float us for the 30-day grace period.

We could have taken the full 11 years to pay off our debt (like our creditors wanted us to; I'd still be in debt while writing this except that I decided instead to manipulate my debt), but 5 sounded a lot better to us. So far our interest savings from paying this debt off has been $2,700+! Plus we quickly rebuilt our emergency savings.

How You Can Further Tweak this for Your Personal Situation: Wiping out most of your emergency savings is a bit rash. So if you have other financial backups, you may instead want to periodically send a lump sum from emergency savings into your student loan debts to make a real dent in the interest you're being charged. Then, work on replenishing your fund.

Regurgitated Financial Advice #3: Have a 20% Down Payment on a Home

You should have a 20% down payment ready (plus closing costs) when purchasing your home. One specific financial reason is that if you don't, then you will likely need to pay something called PMI insurance (a few extra hundred dollars per month to insure the lender against you foreclosing).

Why it Didn't Work for Us: One of our top priorities was to purchase a home after getting engaged in June 2009. Well…we didn't have 20% to put down. Still, it was a great time to buy with low interest rates coupled with that first-time, $8,000 homebuyer's tax credit (the one you got free and clear).

How We Tweaked it: We ended up putting 14% down, plus came to the table with closing costs (plus bought a refrigerator and a new-to-us used car one month later…fair warning: you should not wipe out everything you have in order to come up with that 20% + closing as things may go wrong immediately after signing your closing docs). This worked out well for us because Paul was eligible for a VA loan which does not charge PMI for down payments of less than 20% (note: there is a VA loan funding fee you pay at closing).

How You Can Further Tweak this for Your Personal Situation: Are you or the person you're buying a home with eligible for a VA loan? Look into this as a possibility if you do not have 20% to put down on a home. Also, there is a way to still get out of paying PMI on a home purchase without a VA loan. You'll need to work with a lender. If you can find a seller who will pay a percentage of the closing costs, and the lender puts the PMI insurance as a lump sum on the front end of the loan, then you could get help with paying part of it. Of course this will have to make financial sense to the sellers as well, so be prepared to negotiate!

Instead, work on the advice at your level {and one notch above to really stretch yourself}.

These considerations are key when figuring out how to manage your money in a way to meet your goals, but without driving yourself nuts.

13. Rework your Money Problems

Think about how great it would be to work out problems in the background of your life!

Now, you can.

A woman in my mastermind group, Maria from The Money Principle, told us once to phrase and define issues we are having into an actual problem, because brains love to work out solutions to a problem.

Honest to goodness, this actually works.

When you introduce your money issue in the form of a problem, the answers often pop up at the weirdest times – in dreams, after slathering on shampoo in the shower, during your commute – because your brain keeps working on a problem you've identified whether you know it or not.

So instead of replaying the same old scripts that don't make you happy, by turning them into an actual problem, you can find the answer and move ahead in your life.

Examples of Money Problem Opportunities

  • I finally have myself to the point where I'm making good money but still am living paycheck to paycheck becomes: What would it take to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and save $1,000?
  • I'm still broke and stressed becomes: What does an un-broke life look like to me? What's the first step I need to take to get there?
  • I'll never get out of debt becomes: How can I make it so that I have a clear plan to pay off this debt? How do I figure out which debt to payoff first?
  • Who can afford to retire becomes: How does someone at my income level and in my situation start to save for retirement?
  • I can barely afford my monthly bills becomes: What are the changes I need to make in order to leave myself a buffer each month?
  • There are always contingencies that happen that we don't have the cash for becomes: How are we going to build an emergency fund?
  • Our income is low and bills are high. We make almost exactly what we bring in becomes: How much more do we want to earn? How are we going to earn $X more?
  • I'm terrible at numbers becomes: What sorts of things are people who are “good” at numbers able to do? What are the types of things I need to learn in order to consider myself “good” at numbers?
  • I've been in debt before and gotten out and just gotten back into it again. What's the point becomes: Why did I get back into debt again? How can I avoid that in the future?

I'll bet your brain is starting to work even just reading these problems, whether you realize it or not!

Maybe the answer won't be obvious, maybe it won't be something you feel like you are capable of doing. But by rephrasing your situation into a problem and allowing your brain to work on it, you might surprise yourself with options you didn't know you had.

What is the best way to manage your money? It’s by getting a grip on your current money management system (whatever that looks like), cleaning it up to run efficiently, then adding in some smart strategies such as tracking, working towards a money goal, and more. I hope you take the time to implement these personal money management tips so that you can see just how powerful they are.

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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.

Brian Bienkowski

Wednesday 9th of August 2017


I write for Debt.com and we'd like to feature you in our Profile section It’s a simple interview, usually done via email. We want to learn why you started your personal finance website, what you want to accomplish and how you can help others reach their financial goals. I'd also like to discuss your "decadence" philosophy We've profiled many bloggers just like you. Can we include you? Please contact me if you’re interested.

Hashtag Investing

Wednesday 9th of August 2017

Hi Amanda, This is a great way of handling our finances. Thanks!

Amanda L Grossman

Wednesday 9th of August 2017

You're welcome!

Adriana @MoneyJourney

Wednesday 9th of August 2017

Comparing bills is an interesting 'game', I would have never thought of it! :D I do share this information with some of my closest friends, but only to satisfy eachother's curiosity and only occasionally. I try avoiding the topic since our bills are so much lower than 'the norm'. We downsized a few years back for this very reason (to save money) and it's working!

Amanda L Grossman

Wednesday 9th of August 2017

I'm glad you liked that, Adriana! I'll bet you inspire others to ask you how your bills are so low. That's how we all learn:).

Mrs. Adventure Rich

Monday 7th of August 2017

I'm a big fan of naming accounts in fun ways... and of gamifying! Nothing like a little competition to help you meet your goals ;)

Amanda L Grossman

Tuesday 8th of August 2017

I completely agree (Ha--as you can see!).

Roger@The Chicago Financial Planner

Sunday 15th of February 2015

Nice post and always interesting to hear how people tailor sound advice to best fit their own unique situation. Financial guidelines, rules of thumb etc. are just starting points. Everybody's financial situation is different and kudos to the two of you for tailoring the "rules" to best fit your situation and your goals.