Social networking site Reddit can be massive and daunting to navigate–but it has some of the best financial advice on the internet.
Reddit’s /personalfinance subsite (or sub-Reddit, as they call it) is a massive forum with tons of traffic devoted to all things personal finance. Although new users can dive right in, I’ve become fascinated with their commontopics page–which is essentially a beginner’s guide to personal finance.
As the Kernel’s Ramon Martinez put it in a recent article about Reddit’s finance secrets, “Here, strangers trade applicable advice and go forth into that real life armed with thread-sourced gameplans. That includes the 16-year-old who got advice about his dad’s lack of a retirement plan. For now at least, the community’s faceless expertise is a reassuring nest.”
And, well, don’t we all need a reassuring nest?
The Best Reddit Personal Finance Tips
Until you have time to look at the personal finance commontopics page (and we hope you do), here’s a summary of Reddit’s best personal finance advice:
- Budget and reduce expenses, and set realistic goals: In other words, use a budget app (we like Mint or YNAB), an Excel spreadsheet, or write everything down on paper. See where you’re spending money you don’t need to spend, reduce expenses, and figure out how you can make more money to live a better life.
- Build an emergency fund: Instead of buying things you’ll only use once or spending money on expensive meals at bad restaurants, put money away for unexpected emergencies. Life has a habit of throwing curveballs your way, and you want to be prepared so you don’t end up suddenly broke.
- Employer-sponsored matching funds: If you’re working at a full-time job, make sure you’re signed on to your employer-sponsored 401k if that exists. Once you’re signed up, put as much money into it as you can spare–if your employer is matching the funds, you’re getting free money. Everyone loves free money.
- Pay down high interest debts: Use the debt snowball method to pay off credit card debts to get the emotional buzz of paying off entire credit card balances quickly. Alternately (and more to the point of what Reddit recommends), pay off your highest-interest credit card debts first so you’re not paying endless credit card interest for decades.
- Put money in an IRA or save away for school: Depending on where you are at in your life, either put money away for educational expenses (which could mean anything from a college degree to vocational training to certification to sites like Lynda and Skillshare) or into an IRA so you have a cushion when you retire.
- Save more for retirement: Really. Save more for retirement because we’re all in a bad shape if Social Security disappears when we’re 65. Being old isn’t cheap.
- Work on some financial ninjitsu: Depending on what you want to do, there are some advanced financial management techniques Reddit users recommend that can make your life much easier.
Reddit Personal Finance-centric users also recommend reading this post on Your 401k and You, Your IRA and You, and this detailed flowchart of how to get your money in order by Reddit user /u/atlasvoid.