37. Build a strong credit history. Some people avoid debt and credit cards to such a degree that they fail to build up a strong credit history, which can make it hard to get a loan when they want it, such as a mortgage. Recent college grads with little credit history, for example, can get penalized when they apply for a mortgage or auto loan. Lenders often want to see that you have experience taking on credit and paying your bills on time. As Rod Griffin, public education director for Experian puts it, "You need to demonstrate over time that you handle your debts well."
38. Improve your credit score. The easiest way to do this is by making steady, on-time payments every month and otherwise keeping your accounts in good standing. Get your free credit report once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com to check for any mistakes (and fix them).
39. Choose the best credit card for you. If you pay your balance off each month, you should have a card that gives you rewards points. If you carry debt, just focus on getting the card with the lowest interest rate. Most people have multiple cards that aren't suited to their needs. Pick the one that fits you best and stop using the others. Don't close them, though, because that can hurt your credit score.
40. Check up on your insurance policies. Do you have the auto insurance, renters insurance, and life insurance that you need? According to insurer Allstate, Two in three renters skip insurance altogether, even though most could benefit from the relatively cheap protection. Life insurance is another awkward topic since no one wants to talk about death. But many people are under-insured, which puts their families at risk. Review the insurance that you have and decide whether you have the right amount.
41. Host affordable (and fun) parties. Socializing with friends doesn't have to be expensive. In their new book, Plan to Party, professional party planners Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno suggest saving on invitations by emailing them and splurging on a few special touches, such as adding fresh lemons to water and other drinks or berries as a cocktail garnish.
42. Give better gifts. Surveys show that most Americans say they want to spend less and give more meaningful presents. When birthdays or other events come up, think about how you can give an experience, such as an afternoon at a museum or conversation over tea, instead of things.
43. Celebrate friends' milestones without hurting your bank account. Bridesmaids are famous for their self-sacrifice. Not only do they have to wear the dress, but they are often expected to host events in honor of the bride, travel to the wedding and related events, and give the happy couple wedding gifts. The WeddingChannel.com recently reported that it costs more than $1,600, on average, to serve as a bridesmaid. You can avoid that by splitting costs with friends by room-sharing at the wedding and giving a more personal gift than one on the registry.
44. Create an estate plan. You don't need to be rich and famous to need an estate plan, although celebrity estate planning mistakes hold a few lessons for all of us. Amy Winehouse left her affairs in remarkable order, despite having a relatively complicated personal life, including an ex-husband. Michael Jackson created some complications for his heirs by choosing his elderly mother as a guardian for his young children.