About eight years ago I spent a lot of time reading personal finance books and hanging out in /r/personalfinance. Eventually, I came across Dilbert’s one-page guide to personal finance and I loved the simplicity. Follow these steps in this order and you’ll be in good shape financially:
- Make a will.
- Pay off your credit cards.
- Get term life insurance if you have a family to support.
- Fund your 401k to the maximum.
- Fund your IRA to the maximum.
- Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it.
- Put six months worth of expenses in a money-market account.
- Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement.
- If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issues), hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges a percentage of your portfolio.
Everything else you may want to do with your money is a bad idea compared to what’s on my one-page summary. You want an annuity? It’s worse. You want a whole life insurance policy? It’s worse. You want to invest in individual stocks? It’s worse. You want a managed mutual fund instead of an index fund? It’s worse. I could go on, but you get the point.Scott Adams
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