LendingTree Academy

6 ways to maintain financial discipline

Written by

Jonathan McFadden


February 10, 2020

We’ve collected money management tips and insight from LendingTree women who are savvy spenders and savers. This is part three in a four-part series debunking gendered stereotypes about women and money. Read the first two installments here and here.

Here’s what Tonii Coleman, a senior project manager at LendingTree, said about managing her finances, in her own words.

Using what she learned from Mom & Dad

I learned a lot about financial discipline from my parents. They’re both numbers people and managed their
finances very well. They were able to pay for stuff, like investment properties, without struggle because their credit scores were excellent, and they qualified for exceptional interest rates. On the flip side, I have family members who have struggled financially. Growing up, I saw how hard it was for them and developed a fear of financial instability that still motivates me today. Here’s how I’ve stayed ahead of the curve:

Keeping credit healthy: I learned at a young age that credit is super important. My parents have bought major items like houses and cars with little to no money down and low interest rates because of their great credit. I pay everything early and now have a credit score in the low 800s.

Paying ourselves: My husband and I always find ways to pay ourselves each month. It might be as small as $50 or as much as $3,000. This is separate from money I set aside monthly for investments. We usually set a goal at the beginning of the year as to how much we’re going to save, and we make it happen.  We’ve surpassed our goal three years in a row.

Diversifying my portfolio: We speak with our financial planner regularly. She understands our goals and always offers advice on how our money can make more money. It’s not unusual for us to go to her with money we put away and get her advice on how to invest it. We also typically set my investment dividends up so they automatically reinvest in more shares.

Creating a debt-payoff plan: I don’t have a lot of debt — just our house and car, which are liabilities until they’re paid off. I created a plan many years ago to pay off all my debt and I stuck to it.  It took me about three years to pay off everything, including tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. I also pay things off early, so that I don’t accumulate a lot of interest. This takes a LOT of discipline. I never carry a balance on my credit card, and only use it for the points and cash back.

Cutting back when necessary: We recently had a baby. That changes how much we’re able to save. We’ve done things like stop eating out as much. We do eat out, but not as much as we used to.

Never putting money in one place: I divide my money into separate “buckets” to ensure I don’t rely too much on one account. That way, if something happens, I’m not not strapped for funds because I’ve stowed money away elsewhere.