How Many Rules Of Money Do You Need?

It seems everywhere I turn I see books and articles about the rules of money:

  • Money magazine has the “20 rules of money
  • Forbes magazine has the “new 20 rules of money

Both articles are more about how to invest rather than general money management information, however, and they often contradict each other, so they can’t be rules.

Books On The Rules Of Money

In books there are:

  • Mary Hunt’s “7 Money Rules for Life
  • Conspiracy of the Rich – 8 New Rules for Money” by rich dad, Robert Kiyosaki
  • Jean Chatzky has 94 rules in her “Money Rules
  • Richard Templar in “The Rules of Money” has 100 rules
  • Canada’s money guru Gail Vaz-Oxlade offers up 261 rules in her Money Rules – Yikes!

There’s a lot of information around about how to be smart with money.

Books on money management are almost as plentiful as diet books.  It doesn’t matter what your age, gender, blood type, body type or ethnicity is.  It doesn’t matter whether your meals are high protein, high carb, vegetarian or grapefruit and hard-boiled eggs.

This is the only way to manage your weight:

1.  Don’t gobble up more calories than you expend, and

2.  Quit eating junk.

Likewise, managing your money effectively is all about the basics.  There are only two things you need to know and do to get your finances under control.

1.  Spend less than you earn/Live below your means.  (Doesn’t this sound similar to the first rule of eating?)

2.  Save a portion for the future.  Whether you’re putting aside money for an emergency fund, saving for a car, or setting up a retirement program, know what you need and plan ahead.

Related: Why Do We Save?

Be like the ant in the Aesop fable who worked to store up food for the winter rather than the grasshopper who wanted instant gratification instead and ended up with nothing.

I’ll also add one bonus money rule:

3.  Be able to adapt and adjust to changing financial challenges.

That’s it!  That’s all we need to know, understand and follow.  Do you really need a refresher course on common sense?

But these are very individual situations and processes.  They are not rules.  There’s no magic formula.

We know what the rules of money are.  We also know the consequences if we break the rules.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. @kiltedbroker on August 6, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Seems easy enough, so why is it so hard? Thanks for the perspective!

  2. Elizabeth on August 7, 2013 at 5:26 am

    See? It doesn’t have to be hard.

    I would add #4 though: Do your research. Whether you’re investing in a mutual fund, buying a home or donating to a charity, it’s up to you to know what you’re getting in to. We need to see through the marketing hype and bias to make decisions that are right for us – especially when it comes to avoiding scams (such as charity scams)

    • Boomer on August 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      @Elizabeth: I would make the research as a subset to my rules.
      #1 – comparison shopping, how to balance a budget
      #2 – looking into various types of investments, accounts and credit cards with accompanying fees, professionals such as financial advisors, lawyers, accountants, etc.

      Thanks for the good advice.

  3. Cindi on August 7, 2013 at 6:00 am

    I think Gail’s book is great. Not necessarily meant as rules, but lots of great tips. I see the title of the book more like her saying ” Money Rocks (money can be great or exciting) NOT meaning actual RULES. Just the way I see it.

    • Hannah on August 7, 2013 at 9:08 am

      I have been personally following Gail’s “pie graph” way of budgeting for over six years. It is the one that made the most sense to me. I don’t do the jars but I do have small wallets in my purse which do the same thing as the jars. At first my single friends laughed at me about the wallets. Then they started asking questions. Gail is great for singles.

    • Boomer on August 7, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      @Cindi: I’m not dissing Gail’s books. She has a lot of common sense advice and information that appeals to her many readers and viewers of her TV show.

      I would say she’s providing guidance and direction – they’re just not “rules” in my opinion.

  4. canadianbudgetbinder on August 7, 2013 at 7:36 am

    That’s so true. It’s not rocket science by any means.
    “We know what the rules of money are. We also know the consequences if we break the rules.”
    That is common sense… we know it but whether we follow it is another thing.

    Have a great day.

    • Boomer on August 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      @canadianbudgetbinder: What seems simple is rarely easy to do. I guess we need reminders every once in a while.

  5. Benson Wong on August 7, 2013 at 11:52 am

    This post has an awesome perspective. It really is that simple! But people want an easy way out or want to be told it’s not their fault.

  6. Janine on August 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I really liked Gail’s book, I thought it was funny but there is no way I’ll remember that many rules! I like your three, easy to remember and very simple! 🙂

  7. Canadian Couch Potato on August 7, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Personally I live by only two rules:

    1. Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

    2. Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

  8. Mike on August 8, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Yeah I agree. Money doesn’t have to be difficult. I agree with your rules about money AND managing your weight! I also keep an eye on my earnings. I want to make more each year from my business and investments than I did the year before. If I don’t I want to know why I didnt and take steps to correct that!

    • Boomer on August 9, 2013 at 10:21 am

      @Mike: That sounds like a good planning, Mike.

  9. Bryan Jaskolka on August 9, 2013 at 8:44 am

    After just reading the title of the post, I had a very similar thought: there is only one rule – don’t spend more than you earn. Of course retirement saving, investing, etc. all follows, and I find they all have extremely different rules and they all depend on your own situation. Glad to see that I’m not the only one starting to get bogged down by all “the rules.” I think if we can all just focus on that first one first, we’ll all be in a much better position. Thanks for the post!

    • Boomer on August 9, 2013 at 10:24 am

      @Bryan Jaskolka: You’re right that all the other advice and information is very dependent on your situation. I guess using the word “rules” in a title sounds a lot more impressive than “here’s some good ideas to think about.”

  10. on September 1, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Nice post. Keep it as simple as it needs to be.

    Three easy to remember rules. They are slightly harder to follow in some cases, but having a small set of rules makes it much easier to ensure that you are not breaking them.

Leave a Comment

Join More Than 10,000 Subscribers!

Sign up now and get our free e-Book- Financial Management by the Decade - plus new financial tips and money stories delivered to your inbox every week.