September 17th, 2012

Uncommon Financial Self-Improvement Advice

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**Welcome to Self-Improvement Month here on the Credit Karma Blog! Today’s guest post is contributed by Jeffrey of**


The funny thing about personal finances is that things that don’t seem to be directly about money often have a huge effect on your personal finances and general well-being.

When one talks about financial self-improvement, the automatic assumption is that they will be talking about money. It could be about better ways to save money, better ways to invest money, better ways to spend money, but it almost always will have something to do with money.

Here are a few things that I have done which have made major impacts on my finances, but which most people would not think were financially related.

I Got Better Organized

I have to admit that I’m not the most organized person in the world. It’s still an area where I struggle, but I have become far more organized than I used to be. It’s amazing the major personal financial benefits which have been a result of being better organized. Simple things like always knowing how much money I have in my bank account and if I need to transfer more into it to cover my credit card bill means that I have not had to pay any interest charges on credit cards since my college days.

Unlike many of my friends who end up buying the same things over and over again because they can’t find where they placed the original one, rarely do I find that I buy something that I know I already have, but just can’t find. I am much more productive because I know where things are and I don’t have to spend that extra 10 to 15 minutes looking for it. Instead, I can get right to the task at hand.

I also have a lot less stress since I’m not worried about where things might be because I already know where they are. Being organized doesn’t come naturally to me, but by making a concerted effort to improve I have managed to get to the point where the financial benefits of being so are readily apparent.

I Stopped Watching So Much TV

I’m not one of those people who thinks that TV is terrible and nobody should ever watch, but I do think that most people watch far more TV than they should. I can remember a time when I used to be in front of the TV and I would be wondering why I was even watching the TV because the show that was on wasn’t really interesting, but I sat there anyway. I’m sure that more than a few of you have had this experience as well.

In order to reach the goals that I’d set for myself (including financial goals), I knew I didn’t have enough time in the day to accomplish all that I needed to get done. Something had to go. One of the things that I did was I gave up watching TV, and although it wasn’t easy, it’s something that I have absolutely no regrets about doing.

It’s amazing at how much productivity TV can suck away from your life. By giving up TV, I was able to create a job that I love, secure my retirement account, and make a living doing what I wanted to do rather than work for someone else. There is no way that this would’ve ever happened had I continued to watch TV as much as the average person does.

I Stopped Drinking Soda and Started Eating Better

I used to have a terrible soda habit, and I didn’t eat nearly as well as I should. The effect of this took its toll on my body, and ultimately my health. I decided to give up my soda habit, and immediately saved over $1000 a year. Even better, I just started feeling a lot better about myself.

Combine that with starting to eat healthier food and making sure that I took time to get out from behind my desk to exercise meant that I had more energy during the day to get more things done. It also means that I rarely get sick these days avoiding all the costs associated with that. Becoming healthier has meant more money coming into my pocket and an improvement in my overall finances.

I Sleep 8 Hours and Take Naps

I’m sure that I’m not the only one that has looked at the amount of things that I needed to get done, and wished there were more hours in the day. There have been more than a few nights where I have stayed up into the wee hours thinking that if I could just spend a few more hours working on the things in front of me, I would eventually be able to catch up. Doe this sound familiar?

So it came as a big surprise at how much more I am able to get done when I actually sleep more. Not only do I sleep eight hours at night, I regularly take naps in the afternoon these days. While this might not be the case for everybody, I have learned over time that I get far more done when I am well rested than I do when I start to get tired. I’m just far more productive in a shorter period of time.

Being more productive when I am well rested means that even if I take an hour nap in the afternoon, I will get far more work done in the hour after I wake up than I would in three hours had a not taken a nap. The same is true with sleeping at night. If I get in a good eight hours of sleep, I will be far more productive during the day than if I get up a few hours early to try to get a little bit more time to work. Understanding when I’m most productive allows me to accomplish a lot more than if I was always running on empty. The result is that all portions of my life, including my finances, are in much better shape.

I Learned How to Shop

There is an assumption that shopping is nothing more than going into the store and paying for the items that you want, but most people don’t realize that the shopping experience is an ever-present manipulation of your senses to get you to buy more. By learning the tricks that stores utilize to get me, and everybody else, to buy more than I want to, I have learned how to counteract these manipulations.

In fact, I was able to get to the point where I could take what I learned, and manipulate the ways stores discount to my advantage. I became so good at it that I was able to buy over $1400 worth of food in a 100 day period and spent only $76.11. I was able to feed myself and eat healthy on less than one dollar a day while still donating about $1000 food to the local food bank. I no longer shop to that extreme, but the lessons I learned means I make sure that I get the most from the money that I do spend.

While these might not be areas that one typically talks about in regards to bettering your personal finances, it’s amazing how much influence these areas can have on your bottom line. As I always like to say, personal finances are personal. The fact is that self-improvement, not matter on what area of your life, has a good chance of improving your personal finances as well.

Jeffrey Strain is a personal finance writer, digital nomad and the owner of

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  1. I think getting more organized is fitting and probably the biggest contributor to self-confidence and self-esteem. Feeling like you are not in control affects you personally, professionally, emotionally, and physically.

    Rich White at 5:39 pm on September 20, 2012

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