Last month I ran a series of articles where I asked five top personal finance experts to offer their single best piece of advice. I received some great comments and feedback on the series (including a mention by Business Week's financial blog and Carnival of the Vanities), so I thought I'd do it again, but this time with a twist. This round, I asked top personal finance bloggers to offer their single-best piece of advice. Over the next week or so, I'll be sharing their answers with you.
That said, let's get started with Flexo from Consumerism Commentary. Here's what he had to say:
"Generally, I'm not the one giving advice. Why? Well, it took me a long time to learn what I already know in terms of finance, and frankly, it's not much. It took me a long time not because I'm dense and I don't understand the concepts; for most of my life I didn't realize there was such an area of thought called 'personal finance.' I knew I had to work to afford to live, but I never considered the fact that I had to make more money than I spend. As I realized this truism, I needed to find a way to make it work for me. My plan involved saving as much as I possibly could while minimizing my expenses, but most importantly, I had to keep track of my progress. The personal financial software I used to chart my expenses didn't matter so much as the fact that I was able to visualize my money. By 'visualize' I'm not talking about daydreaming about rolling around in gold coins like Scrooge McDuck; through the use of the software I was able to see my money grow over time. And that is exciting...and motivating. The motivation creates a feedback process -- the more you see you're able to save, the more you'll want to save.
This is my non-professional advice: use computer software to visualize your expenses. You'll find that saving money is more exciting and thus you'll be encouraged to perform better."
I've used Quicken for ten years now, and it's made a tremendous, positive impact to my financial health. I'd agree with Flexo -- get some personal finance software and use it. It will be a great asset in your quest for financial security.
Update: Time to post to the Beltway Traffic Jam.