This list from Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, is about 2 years old, but I just saw it for the first time, and I think it’s an excellent distillation of the basics of personal finance. It really focuses in on exactly what I’ve been reading about in the couple of years that I’ve been getting more serious about personal finance.
Everything you need to know about financial planning*
- Make a will.
- Pay off your credit cards.
- Get term life insurance if you have a family to support.
- Fund your 401(k) to the maximum.
- Fund your IRA to the maximum.
- Buy a house if you want to live in a house and you can afford it.
- Put six months’ expenses in a money market fund.
- 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.
* Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel, Collins, New York, 2002, p. 172.
On the Vanguard page, a bunch of experts weigh in with their opinions on the advice, all of which is positive.
I’ve got #1 and #2 in progress right now. #3 would be next in line. Numbers 4-7 are in various states of completion/planning, though funding the IRA and 401(k) to the maximum is currently a bit of a stretch goal. Number 8? Yeah, well I suppose I’d have to have money left over for that to happen.
These are all long-term goals, but any progress toward them is good. I’m happy that I’m making some headway.