There are a ton of great financial resources out there. Websites like The Penny Hoarder and NerdWallet give you endless tips on managing your money. But let’s be honest – financial advice is not a one-size-fits-all.

When I set out to get my financial life in order, I read a lot of different articles and books. I would take the advice and tips to heart, only to fail again and again. This led me to give up, which in turn, made my financial life even worse.

 eventually managed to turn my financial life around, but I still remember the feeling of not being heard. Below are some of the most common financial tips that didn’t work for me and what I did instead.*

  • Set your bills to pay automatically – This advice is great in helping you avoid late fees. However, when I was living paycheck to paycheck, I couldn’t guarantee the money would be in my account when the automatic payment took place. If the money wasn’t there, I could possibly incur overdraft fees, making my financial situation even worse. My solution was old school. I bought a calendar and wrote down the due date of every bill. I still incurred the occasional late fee, but it was not as often, and it was still less than multiple overdraft charges.

  • If you get a raise, increase your retirement contribution – Again, this is great advice! Retirement will come sooner than you expect, and you want to be prepared. But when you are struggling financially, getting a raise can give you some much needed breathing room. For me, it was more important to meet my daily needs. Instead of increasing my retirement account, I used the extra funds to get caught up on my bills and continue to pay down my debt.

  • Use monetary windfalls to start or increase an emergency fund – If you already have a budget and are making ends meet, this is phenomenal advice. But if you’re trying to correct bad financial decisions and climb out of debt, it may not be the best course of action. Personally, I compromised. I used a portion of my tax refund to start an emergency fund. It wasn’t much but it was the start of something. I then used the remainder of my tax refund to continue working on my debt.

Adapting common financial advice to better suit my needs eventually allowed me to set a budget that was sustainable. This opened a path to better handling of my finances. Finally, I was able to utilize all those great tips I couldn’t at the beginning of my journey. To keep yourself motivated, Liz Stidham, Chief Branching Officer, recommends tackling smaller debts first. Seeing progress on smaller debts can give you a much-needed boost to stay on track.

If you need help getting started, TTCU is here for you. No matter where you are, we have someone on hand who can work with you to get you on the right path, so that you too can live life in balance.


* Opinions are my own and do not reflect financial advice.