2 Important Instructions for Prioritizing Earning and Saving

We need to set our priorities when it comes to earning more and saving. What will have the largest effect on our bottom line and requires the least amount of effort?

When I lived in D.C., I told my brother who lives in California to check out Lending Club. Living in D.C. disqualifies me, but I thought he’d enjoy the chance to make some great returns with social lending.

He told me to send him a link, but he never followed up even though he was interested. He got lazy, and eventually forgot about it.

Fast forward to last week, when he asked me if I had ever heard of Envaulted, a site that gives you 1% cashback on all purchases in exchange for access to your credit card transactions. It sounds like a pretty decent deal if you’re willing to let someone else have access to your credit card information, and it’s a passive way to earn a couple dollars a month.

So did I tell that to my brother? Nope! And I’m not letting any of you do it either. Not until you follow my two, very simple instructions (more on that below).

I told him that there are ways to make a lot more money and he shouldn’t worry about trying to make an extra $10 a month. Of course, I brought up the fact that he never signed up for Lending Club and he wants to make smart medium-term investments.

He argued that the two weren’t mutually exclusive and he could do both, but I shot back that he COULD, but the fact is that he DIDN’T.

There are lots of ways to make (or save) a few extra dollars here or there. You can clip coupons and pass on your daily coffee, but there are easier ways to save money.

He still argued, but I sent him another invitation for Lending Club and he signed up.

Here are my simple instructions:

1. Sign up for your company’s 401(k). Start automatically putting away money each month. These are two HUGE things you can do that will make a difference down the road. You shouldn’t feel them much now, but later, you’ll appreciate it.

2. Set up automatic bill-pay, make sure you’re not paying any unnecessary fees, and call your cable, internet, and phone providers to negotiate a better price. The one-time cost of 15 minutes will put more money in your pocket every single month.

If you’ve done the big things, you’re doing great. If you’re able to cut down on expenses without losing quality, even better. If you’re at that point and you still want to save a few more dollars, you have my permission to clip coupons, reuse sandwich bags, or make your own laundry detergent.

7 Responses to 2 Important Instructions for Prioritizing Earning and Saving

  1. Everyday Tips says:

    Isn’t it funny how people WANT to do well, but don’t actually want to do the work? I am so puzzled when people ask my advice and then find every excuse in the book not to follow it. I am not saying I am so smart and have all the answers, but I think sometimes people just want to complain about their situation, but don’t really have the desire to change it.

    • Daniel says:

      @Everyday Tips, The time they put in now will save them a lot more in the future, not to mention the stress, worry, etc. that they won’t have to deal with (also, papercuts from not clipping coupons).

  2. Jenna says:

    I totally agree with both those statements. 15 minutes of time is worth the amount of time you’ll spend worrying about something.

  3. Evan says:

    I HATE when you hand people the keys and they do nothing with them. It frustrates me to no end.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Services like envaulted are very interesting. Do a tiny bit of math on your monthly spend and take a look at the offers they provide where they’re giving you 10%, 15%, 20% off each week on a few retailers. I’ve been signed up for two months now and have made about $70. That’s pretty good return.

  5. Ben says:

    This is Daniel’s brother. Feel free to rail on me because everything he said is true.

    In fact, even though I signed up for Lending Club after we had that conversation, I didn’t actually invest anything. So today I finally logged in and made some investments. I guess I’m getting there slowly.

  6. Khaleef @ KNS Financial says:

    Hey Daniel, I absolutely agree. There are so many times that people will actually ask for my advice and then not follow through on it, and complain about being in the same situation months later. I also agree that you need to take care of the more important things first, before you focus on the minor stuff.

    @ Ben, no railing, this is very common and it takes time to break out of that mode of thinking – believe me, I know all about it!

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