Earnest attempts to save money here and there don't always add up to much. When traditional methods fail, it's time to consider a few counterintuitive options.

Spend Money

If you want to get the most for your money, you are going to have to spend. One of the biggest mistakes people make when they are trying to get their finances in order is to stop spending money alogether.

Not all spending is the same. You should limit unnecessary purchases, but spending on essential upkeep, preventive measures and items that will save money in the long run is vital for getting and keeping your finances in order.

Scrimp now on items and services that can help prevent larger expenses in the long run -- such as routine car maintenance and energy-saving bulbs -- and you could pay for it later.

Don't Stay Home in Front of the TV

While staying home is certainly less expensive than going out with your friends, it isn't likely to improve your financial situation significantly. In fact, it can cost you a lot of money.

Instead of staying home and lamenting that you can't afford to go out, take the initiative. Sign up for some classes to improve your job prospects and learn new cost-cutting skills so that next year you don't have to sit at home thinking about the things that you want but still can't afford.

Don't Spend Time Learning How to Invest

When you are first starting to improve your finances, don't make learning how to invest a priority. Instead, put your investing on autopilot and follow the advice of Warren Buffett: "The best way to own common stocks is through an index fund."

Once you've mastered your finances and have saved a nice nest egg, then you'll have time to research individual stockts. Until then, your time will be much better spent on improving your finances through other means.

Don't Leave Your Investments to Experts

Do your own investment research. This research should include getting experts' opinion, but don't rely on it exclusively.

You should make the final decision for your circumstances. Giving your finances completely over to someone else to take care of, no matter how much of an expert he or she may be, is asking for financial trouble.

Don't Let Salary Determine Job Choice

One of the worst financial mistakes you can make is to base your job choice on salary alone.

For long-term earning and financial health, you're almost always better off choosing the job you will find most satisfying.

Even if the salary is lower at the outset, you'll be more productive -- and more likely to advance -- if you're engaged and motivated.

Don't Buy What Is Cheapest

"Cheap" rarely means "the best value." To get the most out of your hard-earned money, you must think value rather than price. A car that is inexpensive, but costs a lot to drive and needs frequent repairs has less value than a car with a higher price tag but costs less to run and maintain.

This concept of buying value over price can be applied to anything and will mean that you rarely buy items which are the least expensive.

Don't Buy Things That Are on Sale

Much like things that are the cheap, things that are on sale are rarely the best value.

There are two major problems with most items on sale: They are often something that you really don't need, and even if you do need them, you can usually find an alternative with better value.

If it's not something you'd buy even if it weren't on sale, it's a purchase you shouldn't make.

When you find something on sale that you do need, don't buy it without looking at other options. If you need the item and there aren't better options, buy away.
Jeffrey Strain has been a freelance personal finance writer for the past 10 years helping people save money and get their finances in order. He currently owns and runs SavingAdvice.com.