You can find plenty of financial advice wherever you look, although not all of it will fit your particular financial situation. Once you have taken care of the basics, you may want to consider some additional steps to maximize your cash flow and savings while minimizing your taxes and monthly expenses.
Whenever you buy a new gadget or appliance, the salesperson encourages you to buy an extended warranty to protect that precious new possession. It is tempting, but when you do the math it is a better deal for you to just put the same amount of money aside for the time that you do need to replace your purchase with a new model. Due to all the fine print and exclusions in extended warranties, you are unlikely to benefit from the policy. Instead, be sure that the company and the store where you buy the item will guarantee it for a reasonable period of time against defects and early failure at no additional expense. Also, many credit card companies include extended warranties for purchases made with their card.
If you have contracts for services such as pest control, furnace maintenance or even house cleaning, shop around occasionally to see if you are paying too much. Loyalty is a good thing, but you may get the same good service for a lot less by changing providers. Your friends and colleagues are a great source of recommendations. You may also be able to get a discount while keeping the same companies that you know and trust if you tell them that you could get a better deal from their competitors.
While you are still in the process of paying off your credit card debt, it never hurts to call up and ask about having the APR lowered. If a company is charging you significantly more than others, they would rather keep your business even if they do not make quite as much from your account every month. With a good credit score and plenty of persistence, you may end up saving quite a bit of money and be able to get out of debt sooner.
Take full advantage of 529 accounts to save for future college expenses. While there is no immediate federal tax benefit, the savings accrue tax-free as long as the money that is in the account is eventually used for college and related expenses. Another type of 529 account pays for future units of tuition at current prices. This does limit later college choices, but when tuition is increasing much faster than interest rates, your effective rate of return is quite high. Also, certain state-sponsored plans do offer state tax breaks and other benefits, so look around to see which plans work best for you. You also need to know that there are penalties for using the money from a 529 account for unqualified expenses, so only invest the money that you plan to leave for college expenses.
Once you have followed all the obvious advice you can find, such as getting out of debt and saving for the future, it is time to learn more ways to improve your finances as much as you can. It is never too late to learn new skills and try new techniques. Check your finances regularly to see if you can find a better way to manage them rather than just relying on the way you have always done things in the past. Sometimes an unusual idea will be just what you need, so do not be afraid to learn something new.