Real people share their best financial tips – and what they wish they learned sooner

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 Part 1 of a 4-part series

If you search online for ‘best financial tips’, you’ll come up with hundreds of millions of hits in less than a second. Here’s the thing about advice – it’s free to give, but not always easy to follow. (If it were, we’d be a stone lighter and get 8 hours of sleep every night.)

At Lending Stream, we know everyone’s financial journey is different, and ‘expert advice’ isn’t necessarily the most practical for everyday life. To that end, we decided to ask our own friends, family and coworkers on how they managed to gain control of their finances. We’re turning their answers into a four-part series – ‘Real tips from real people’.

In this edition, we ask: What’s the most valuable financial lesson you learned the hard way?

• Credit cards are NOT free money. Use them wisely only to improve your credit. – Julie

• After getting married – learning I was the spender (and not the saver as I thought) and creating a budget for myself with spending limits. – Matt

• Save as if you might have a health crisis. Imagine you might have to spend 10k? 20k? 50k? How would you do it? The only way to do it is pay off your debt fast and early (I was debt free by 25-that helped a lot with my current health stuff). – Heather

• Pay your bills on time – late fees are a killer. – Chris

• Learning to wait. It can be too big of a hurdle sometimes to save up for things you want, but even if you can practice waiting a few hours, a few days or a week, it can stop you from buying things on impulse and help you build up the skills for the longer term stuff. – Becky

• The most valuable financial lesson I’ve learned is don’t lend money to friends…unless it’s really a gift. – Susan

• Just like added pounds to body weight, increasing credit card debt is so much easier adding on than paying it off. In my twenties I remember planning a trip and not factoring in all the costs that would be incurred, so technically affording the airfare didn’t cut it because there was much more added to my credit card. But it was a great lesson to learn early in life! – Linda

• That just occasionally checking my bank balance online wasn’t an effective way to keep track of my money – and cost me hundreds in overdrafts. – Annie