Personal finance is important to learn about, no matter how much (or how little) money you make. Wouldn’t you like to hang on to a little more of that money?

Whenever possible, pay with cash. Having cash is a tangible reminder of how much or little money you have left, to meet your upcoming needs and expenses. Unlike debit and credit cards, cash is taken just about everywhere and is free of annoying surcharges, fees and confusing small print.

The alternative is to use a debit card (or credit card, if you pay off the balance), which offers protection if your purchase goes wrong. A friend of mine used this to good effect when he paid for his wedding reception at his choice of lake district wedding venues. When the hotel didn’t live up to their promises and caused problems on his wedding day, he claimed part of the cost back on his card. Had he paid cash, then he would have lost that option.

It’s expensive and difficult for a small investor to create a diversified portfolio using individual securities, but a no-load mutual fund can provide instant diversification at low cost. You can invest as little as a thousand Dollars in a fund that holds anywhere from 20 to several hundred securities, for an annual fee as low as 1 %.

If you are trading to make your mortgage payments, you are trading for the wrong reasons. Always use safe money as opposed to your real world dollars that must support your day to day life.

Make sure you read over your credit card statement very carefully every month. Make sure there aren’t any charges that shouldn’t be on there. It helps if you keep any receipts from purchases where you used your credit card this way you can use those to verify any charges on your account.

When the bill comes in, do not charge more each month than you can pay. The interest adds up if you only pay the minimum balance, and you can end up paying much more for your purchase in the end than if you had simply used your own money to buy it outright. Bonuses such as airline miles or even rebates seldom make up for the additional expense.

One good debt (because it’s backed by an asset) is a mortgage. The first thought on any first time buyer’s mind when they think about a mortgage is how much can i borrow? This is the time for caution though as the amount that you can borrow is based on your circumstances today. Take a step back from utopia and ask yourself – what if things go wrong? You can find more information on estate agents by searching online.

If you discover an error on your credit report, your first step is to write a letter explaining this error to that credit bureau. The second step would be to contact the creditor who made the error and ask them to fix it. You are more guaranteed to see a resolution if you attack the problem from both ends.

Don’t throw away money! If you have an item you no longer want, don’t just toss it. Look online or in your local newspapers “for sale” ads to find out what it might be worth then advertise it for sale. If you have quite a few items, have a yard sale. You have spent money to obtain your items, you shouldn’t lose money when you are finished with them.

Taking care of your personal finances is a great way to stretch your money. Learning a little more about how to manage your money is never a waste a time. There is plenty of free information out there to teach you, too.