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Resources and Education

Personal Finance In Your 20's

  • Ask yourself why money is important to you? Then create a financial life that reflects your answers.
  • Pay no attention to what the Joneses are doing or saying.
  • Prioritize having an emergency "rainy day" fund. It will rain.
  • Living within your means is the number one way to build wealth (save 20% of your income). How? Embrace the '20' in the 50/30/20 Rule.
  • Debt takes away options, which is your most valuable asset. Pay off credit card debt in full every month and if you can't, tackle it strategically.
  • Never pass up the match on an employer's retirement plan (ALWAYS grab it).
  • Accept that the future will probably play out differently than you think it will.
  • Invest in a diverse portfolio of stocks with the intention of staying invested for decades. Dollar cost average for your entire life and you won't care what the market is doing. When in doubt, choose the investment with the lowest fee (index funds are usually these).
  • Invest, don't speculate. If you must speculate, then set up a separate “Las Vegas account” with no more than 5-10% of your investable funds.
  • Don't invest too conservatively in your 20's and 30's. Consider 100% in equity (stock mutual funds) and 0% fixed income (bond funds) because you probably don't need the money for decades. And if you do need the money in the next 5 years for a purchase (such as a house or car), it shouldn't be in the market at all.


Personal Finance In Your 30's

  • Embrace tips above for your 20's.It's ok, it may take a few passes for them all to stick.
  • Lifestyle creep happens. Keep prioritizing your savings goals so that you always pay yourself first.
  • If you haven't embraced saving 15-20% of your income by early 30, get started with a minimum of 10% and rapidly build up to more. Never stray even when it's tempting to dial back your retirement saving because other pressing goals in your 30's and 40's are vying for your hard-earned dollars.
  • Have good insurance, especially don't overlook life insurance if you have kids or a spouse that relies on your income. It's super cheap in your 30's.
  • Thinking about your first house? While renting, live like you are paying a mortgage while you are renting for a year to see if it's a good fit. Therefore, if the mortgage plus taxes plus insurance are more than rent, tuck aside the difference in a savings account where it grows. And if you buy, have the conversation with spouse if you can afford mortgage on just one salary (the 28/36% rule is an ok rule of thumb).
  • Year-end bonuses or tax refunds, beef up your emergency fund (maintain at least 3-6 months of basic living expenses).
  • H.S.A.s: one of the best hidden gems for building wealth for retirement (tax-avoidance trifecta).
  • Maximize ROTH if you can, and don't forget 529 accounts, not just your 401k.
  • Each year in January craft your Spending Plan: know your revenue and expenses. Make it a date night.

Personal Finance In Your 40's

  • Re-read tips for your 20's and 30's. If you haven't embraced them by now, you've got serious catching up to do. It's never too late to be empowered and proactive.
  • Make your financial advisor commit to a fiduciary standard. If you haven't starting working with a real Financial Planner, it's time. Most people don't wait to see a doctor for the first time in their 50's. Not only should they save you money, help be smarter about making money, but they can help you get to the heart of why money is important to YOU so that your financial life reflects the answers (back to Square One, tip #1 in your 20's)

Favorite Books

  • The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio, by William J. Bernstein
  • Common Sense on Mutual Funds, by John Bogle
  • Winning the Loser's Game: Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing, by Charles Ellis
  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street, by Burton Malakiel
  • The Only Guide to a Winning Investment Strategy You Will Ever Need: The Way Smart Money Invests Today, by Larry Swedroe
  • Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment, by David Swensen
  • Your Money or Your Life, by Vicki Robin

Investing Resources and Education

Personal Finance During Your Working Years