We have all heard of “keeping up with the Joneses.” It’s the all-American notion of besting your neighbors. If they remodel their kitchen, maybe you should too – and upgrade the bathroom while you’re at it. If they just got a new car, then you need a new one, too, but not just new. It should be electric, really fast, and equipped with a robot to do all the driving!
In a world where we all get into debt and lose track of ourselves with the intention of being the best, we often find ourselves lost. What if there were a better way, though? What if we could still be competitive, but save money and live better as a result? That’s where “competing with a Money Crasher” comes in play.
How to Compete with a Money Crasher
To compete with a Money Crasher, you don’t have to email a writer on this blog and launch a campaign to outdo us. All you need to do is find someone in your own life who you respect for their frugal lifestyle and financial savvy. Money Crashers are everywhere, you just have to start looking. Once you find the person who is where you want to be financially, see if you can find out exactly how they do it. Then, start competing and do it better. Below are some tips:
1. A Competing Budget
Learn how the Money Crasher in your life goes about financial planning and creating a budget. Do they do something that you don’t do that may be useful to you? Maybe they stick cash in envelopes or have created their own budget spreadsheet in Excel. Figure out what you can take away from their fiscally responsible lifestyles. Combine their system with the best of what you already do and you are now competing in a positive way!
2. Competing Activities and Entertainment
Perhaps you find that your fellow Money Crasher limits himself or herself to one paid and fun activity per week. Maybe that Money Crasher has chosen to cancel cable and is therefore able to enjoy more of their time playing in a soccer league. It’s not about quantity; it’s about achieving quality of activities while maintaining your budget. In what ways can you learn from this person on how to find budget entertainment and have more fun with less money?
3. Competing Debt Paydown
Need to get out of debt? Talk to some Money Crashers in your life who have gotten out of debt with a plan. Try to utilize the strategies that worked for them, and even try to get out of debt quicker than they were able to! Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman are great resources for inspiration. For example, Dave Ramsey’s followers include thousands of everyday people who have found ways to get out of hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.
4. Competing Investments
Do you have a Roth IRA, but the Money Crasher in your life has that plus a traditional 401k? Learn about the differences in your investment strategies and swap ideas to improve both of your plans. Maybe you will learn about a tax shelter or why a Roth 401k is the right retirement plan for you.
5. Competing Savings
Even if you already have savings, what might you be missing? Maybe your Money Crasher knows of a bank with the best rates on savings accounts (like ING Direct or Ally Bank) or can show you how to set up an emergency fund. Keep competing with them to improve your savings, and keep sharing your knowledge to improve theirs as well.
Competing with a Money Crasher isn’t necessarily about winning, but it is about improving your finances by sharing ideas with people you trust. I learn a lot by reading financial websites and blogs like Money Crashers, but I also enjoy talking with friends and coworkers about how they manage their finances. Sometimes their stories are just as helpful as expert advice.
Here are the some of the lessons I have learned by competing with Money Crashers in my life:
- You can survive on just $50 a month without eating out and spending wisely on groceries. To accomplish this, it might be worthwhile to try out frugal meal-planning services like E-mealz or save money on grocery shopping by using tools like The Coupon Clippers and The Grocery Game.
- You don’t need cable thanks to free over-the-air HD, Netflix, and other free alternatives to watch cable TV.
- You can save a lot of money with do it yourself home improvement.
- You can cut the cost of a new iPhone in half by buying refurbished and getting a low data plan. Then, you can sell or trade in your old iPhone to upgrade to the new one for free!
What are the best ideas you have learned from the Money Crashers in your life? Tell us your story in the comments section below and you will be automatically entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card!
Update: The winner of the $20 Amazon gift card is Jen with her comment shown below. Congrats Jen!
(photo credit: Dead Slow)