Thought I'd start a thread about things it took me a long time to learn that I wish I had learned sooner. My parents were not good teachers when it came to money matters...so I had to learn a lot on my own. Now at 33, I have figured some things out.

1) I will not finance another vehicle as long as I'm in the military. I will pay cash for my future cars until I retire...and then only if I land a GREAT job. I still owe $12K on my 2002 Durango. My neighbor just bought a 2002 Minivan for $4K. My Durango is waiting for a transmission while my 1996 Accord that I paid $1400 for has always started up for me and never let me down. Do I "really" need a nice car so others will think I'm cool? I love the Shelby Mustang up at the BX...but what will it really do for me? I already am able to go where I want. I can get to work, the beach, go into town. So do I want to pay $500 every month just so I can go to the same places "in style?" The ride to where I'm going isn't more important than WHERE I am going. I have learned that what car I drive is NOT a personal statement or a status symbol. It is a means to an end. It is a tool I have to get me from one place to another. I can find cars that will do the same thing for me for under $5K.

2) Learn car MX. I do all my own car mx if it all possible. I just replaced the rear axle on my Durango and tomorrow, I have to replace the transmission. It's a 2002 and the rear axle only cost me $500 with shipping, and I have a transmission lined up for $700. If I had to pay labor, those numbers would be doubled.

3) SAVE SAVE SAVE!!! Compound interest is great but needs time. I am starting late so I have to save aggressively ($800-1000 a mos) to make the interest/return work for me. But I can still save over $1.5M by the time I hit 65. Imagine if I had started earlier in my life!!!

4) When you buy your toys, by quality over cheap. If you can't afford quality, then save a bit more. Don't buy a cheap TV or a cheap couch because you wand it NOW. This goes counter to my car theory - but cars can be fixed. How many actually fix their TVs if they go out...or fix your couch if it rips or stains? Not many. Most will go buy another TV or another couch. This actually adds up more over the years than if you had bought quality that lasts a while. Even if it doesn't break, you become unsatisfied and upgrade later anyway. For example, I had $1K for a TV a couple of years ago. But the TVs in that range were not that great...but I wanted a big flat screen. If I had gone with my impulse, I'd have bought a TV that wouldn't have satisfied me and I would have wanted a better one in a short time. Instead, I waited another couple of months and spent $1800 on a nicer TV that I still LOVE. Same with my grill. It seems I always buy a grill when I PCS. So this time I said forget that...I'm gettinga nice/good grill so it'll last me a while.

5) PAY CASH FOR THINGS!!! The more you pay cash for, the less you owe someone else!!!

6) Lean how to feed a large family for cheap! If you are going out, learn where the specials are. We don't eat at a popular restaurant - I love their food, but their kids plates are $8.00. So look at kids prices before going! Don't be afraid to walk out...LOL. We have done that before.

Okay - just some things that, IMO, I have figured out. What things have you figured out that works for you?