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Keeping Up with the Money Crashers – Compete For Financial Fitness

By Ryan Knight

keeping up with the joneses carWe 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 Capital One 360 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.

Final Word

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:

What are the best ideas you have learned from the Money Crashers in your life?

Ryan Knight
Ryan is a business analyst in Atlanta, GA and proud supporter of Georgia Tech. He enjoys blogging as a way to share with others ideas about finding time, saving money, and having fun. He regularly contributes to ObsessedAnalytic and MoneyCrashers and has been featured on ChristianPF and RedeemingRiches. In his free time, Ryan enjoys playing and watching sports including running, soccer, football, and disc golf. Follow him on his twitter account: ramblinknight.

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Comments

  • Michelle

    Here’s something I learned: Get an online-only savings account, and have a fixed amount of money transferred there each month. Specify a purpose for the money, i.e.: taxes, new car, Christmas gifts. Ignore it until you need it for THAT PURPOSE, AND THAT PURPOSE ONLY. It’s almost like finding money you didn’t know you had. Trust me, you won’t think about it much, and suddenly, you’ll have a good chunk of change sitting there.

    • Ryan Knight

      Michelle,

      Great point! Automatic savings accounts work so much better than saving after the leftovers and I agree that you are surprised in the end how much more you will end up saving.

  • http://change-is-possible.net Heather

    I learned that the 12-month pay program for teachers is crap. I should take the pay only in the months that I’m teaching and save for the summer. I can get interest on my money instead of the district or the state getting interest on my money. At the time, interest rates were much better than they are now, but I still take 10-month pays.

    (For those unaware: in both states I’ve taught in, teachers have the option of having their annual salary split between 22 or 26 paychecks. In the 26-check option, we get 21 checks of equal size, and the last 5 pays worth of money in a lump sum at the very end of the school year.)

    • Ryan Knight

      Heather,

      I didn’t know that information about teacher pay but now I do. Thanks!

      It sounds just like taxes when the government takes too much during the year, makes interest, and then gives back your initial amount. As long as your not tempted to spend it ahead of time, go ahead and take the money and stash it in an automatic savings account like Michelle said. Then when summer comes, you’ll have money to live on including some extra interest.

  • Carson

    We have friends that are really good about paying extra on auto loans to get them paid off as soon as possible, saving the interest charges.

    • Ryan Knight

      Carson,

      Paying off loans early is a great way to save. If you have an auto loan with a rate of 7% and pay it off early, it’s like putting the money in a risk-free savings account with a 7% interest rate. Considering most savings accounts have rates around 1-2%, the 7% (or whatever your auto loan rate is) is amazing!

      Thanks for the tip.

  • Elizabeth I

    Having a budget and sticking to the budget is the best way to achieve a financial goal.

    • Ryan Knight

      Elizabeth,

      Simple, but true. If you don’t know what you spend it’s hard to know where you can save. Everyone should start with a budget.

  • Jen

    I learned about having multiple savings accounts. Love seeing them ALL go up at least a bit each month :)

  • Alan

    I keep up w/ the Money Crashers by doing several of the things mentioned. I have a solid emergency fund and I make a budget and stick to it. I also have several ING accounts that I funnel a little money to each month for various expenses that will eventually come along.

  • Jen

    I think I finally keep up with Money Crashers. I used to splurge on non-essential items all of the time and used credit cards to do so. Now I have drastically slashed my credit card usage. For the first time, I have saved for something before buying it. I created a SmartyPig goal for a GPS. I’ve also started funneling some money from each paycheck to other savings accounts. I joined a credit union & upped my retirement contribution to the maximum percentage since our company matches. I feel I am living within my means now.

  • Kristy OT

    The Money Crashers in my life–my grandparents–taught me to start saving for retirement early and to live modestly. They’re still in the same house my mother grew up in. I think that’s pretty cool.

    • Ryan Knight

      Kristy,

      It’s great that you have Money Crashers in your family to teach you right. Sounds like you’re learning how to spend money wisely and I’m sure you’ll be helping others soon enough.

  • Emily

    I learned that if both spouses are working, you should try to live off of only one income and invest the rest. You can live off the higher one, but that way, you’ll always have enough saved and if something should happen to one of you, you won’t experience a dramatic change in lifestyle.

  • maria

    That you can be rich no matter what your income is as long as you live within your means and include saving and investing for your future in that.

  • Robin D

    a budget and sticking to the budget

  • peggy

    Though it was tough growing up this way, my parents instilled in me the concept of waiting to buy and avoiding impulse purchases. If I wanted to buy something, they would ask me “Do you NEED it?” (as in, do you need it to live/survive) and 99% of the time the answer was No. Now I can’t wait to teach the youngsters (when I have kids!) the difference between needs and wants.

  • Liz

    One of the biggest ones that I have learned is differentiating between wants and needs and letting some time pass before making purchases. You often forget about something that you had to have just by postponing buying it for a day (or even an hour)!

  • Craig

    Using coupons and matching those coupons with sales saves a ton of money!!

    • Ryan Knight

      Craig,

      I didn’t like couponing too much at first because I didn’t think it was worth my time, but you are totally right! Combining couponing with sales is a great way to save big on each item you purchase. If you buy mostly items that you save double on and then just stock what you don’t use (pantry or freezer) then your average meal will be extremely cheap.

  • gina

    I have taken your advice on budgeting to heart. About a year ago I started extreme couponing and I have cut my grocery bill by half! I have used the extra money to pay down debt, and will likely be moving on to begin paying off the mortgage

  • Anissa

    It pays to shop around! It’s better to do your research rather than just be brand loyal.

  • Karemella

    I’ve been competing to get better about investing – I need to be more mindful about investing. And I’m trying to learn to keep better track of where even the smaller amounts of money go.

    From my neighbors, I’ve learned that bartering and/or just helping each other out can be a lot less expensive and more rewarding than just hiring someone.

  • Dee

    Well this blog right here is a great example of me learning from you aka Money Crashers where you are smart about spending and use a lot of coupons and really think investments and spending through and through. Another Money Crasher is my older brother who pretty much loves your site and learns from it and in turn sends posts to me so that i too can learn from them – he really doesn’t clutter his home with dvds and books and crazy knick knacks that end up costing a lot. He is great at savings and invests wisely. I don’t know how he does it exactly but I know the first step is not shopping every chance he gets and searching for good deals for items he absolutely needs.

  • Adam Slide

    Good post Ryan! Some of our “Money Crasher” friends motivated us to get rid of our satellite TV service and start saving more money by using coupons at the grocery store. They didn’t have a TV at all, so when we were thinking about cancelling our satellite TV service and switching to free over-the-air HD they gave us more confidence that we could make the switch. They would also save a ton of money on groceries by using different couponing techniques, so that motivated us to start using more coupons and figure out how to get the best deals on groceries.

    • Ryan Knight

      Adam,

      Giving up TV service is definitely getting more and more popular. I have done the same thing and it’s very freeing and financially beneficial at the same time. I’ll add a post on my experience soon.

  • Em D

    I have friends who schedule a financial meeting once a month to go over finances, update the budget, etc. Even though it’s just me, I think scheduling a meeting with myself once a month will help me stay on top of everything!

    • Ryan Knight

      Em D,

      Great tip. I think getting people to hold you accountable is one of the best ways to consistently stay on top of your finances. It’s easy to get motivated and then lose your drive, but when there’s someone questioning you every month then you are bound to have great financial health.

  • Mary M.

    The best thing I’ve learned over the past few years is to consistently use my The Grocery Game subscription to save money at the grocery store. I’ve become a stockpiling fiend and would never go back to the way I used to grocery shop.

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