Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • August 2018
Written by 

Share your best financial moves

Many people have learned valuable lessons about saving money, minimizing debt and making wise financial choices. Your short personal stories shared in an encouraging way can help people facing financial challenges to have hope and make positive changes.

I sometimes ask adults to share the best financial moves they have made. What would you suggest?

Here are some of their suggestions:

  • “I started saving for retirement when I was 20.” “I increased my 401(k) deferral from 1 percent to 6 percent when I was young.” There were a handful of people who made similar comments. Starting to save as early as possible is an outstanding principle and a great suggestion.
  • “I went to college in order to land a good paying job.” Attending college and getting a degree in a field that is in demand can still be an effective career path. There are also many opportunities in technical colleges and in the trades to learn skills that lead to a satisfying, well-paying career. Education after high school is important and it’s wise to explore all options.
  • Here’s a great suggestion about paying for college: “Don’t take out student loans until you have exhausted all other avenues for financing your education. Then only borrow what is needed.”
  • “The only clothes I buy at retail are underclothes! Resale shops and garage sales are fun ways to hunt for great finds!” One frugal person offered these creative insights. She also cautioned against overspending saying, “Just because something is a great price doesn’t make it a great deal for us if we don’t need it.”
  • Multiple people said, “Made a budget and used the envelope system.” Having a budget or plan for our spending is another proven principle. Many people use envelopes with a limited amount of cash as a visible reminder of how much they have chosen to spend in each category. Some people also use electronic tools like to keep track of their spending.
  • Many people said that tracking spending (writing down what we spend) really opened their eyes to how much they were spending and where their money was going. We do a lot of spending out of habit. Tracking makes us more aware of our spending.
  • “Making a plan with my husband for savings, retirement, budget and tithe” repeats the principle of having a budget and setting priorities according to your values. Other people had similar comments like “Save before spending” and “Always give to the Lord first.”
  • “Saving early for big things like a vacation, new vehicle and education.” If we try to save money after we have paid all the bills, we may not have enough money left to save. That’s why many people treat saving as a top priority.
  • “Don’t get a credit card in your twenties.” Several people had comments about not relying on credit cards, evaluating purchases carefully before buying and minimizing the use of credit.

If you know someone who could use some words of wisdom, gently share some of your best financial moves. You can help them avoid some pitfalls and make better choices. 

Alan Prahl

Alan Prahl is the Education Leader with FISC, the Financial Information & Service Center. He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and law degree from Hamline University. A nonprofit program of Goodwill NCW, FISC provides financial counseling and coaching, including a no-cost, no obligation 30-minute consultation with the “counselor on call.” To learn more, call 920-886-1000 or visit

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