Nobody wants to waste their money. But, it’s hard to know how to properly manage your finances, since there’s so much conflicting advice out there. So, here’s advice from the experts on three of the most confusing financial issues:

  • Should I buy or rent my home? Finance expert J.D. Roth suggests this easy trick: divide the purchase price of the house by the annual rent of a similar home – if the answer’s above 20, it’s cheaper to rent. For example, a $300,000 dollar home that rents for $1,500 a month would rate a 16, and would be cheaper to buy.

  • Should I use my tax refund to pay off debt or build an emergency fund? The answer: Reduce your debt! Donna Fox is the author of From Credit Repair to Credit Millionaire. And she says if your savings account offers 1 percent interest, but you’re paying 13 percent on the balance on your credit card, you’re losing 12 percent a year! So, focus on reducing your debt first.

  • Should I borrow money for college? Lynn O'Shaughnessy is an expert in education finances. And she says that – like any investment decision – you have to crunch the numbers. Figure out how much your degree will cost, and how much your monthly student loan payment will be once you graduate. If your payments are more than 10 percent of your projected income, you’re borrowing too much.

Want to go further? You can do all these calculations, and more, on websites like paybacksmarter.com and nerdwallet.com.