A Noble Financial Plan

Paul B. Farrel, in a recent article published on MarketWatch.com, posits that everything you need to know about personal finance is contained in nine simple steps. In a Dilbert book. He goes so far as to praise the ideas as worthy of a Nobel Prize in economics.

Paul, you may be onto something. I won’t get into too much blabber, but I certainly agree that these simple bullet points are essential and bear repeating. For the lazy readers (and because I think this is so important), I’ll quote them here:

  1. Make a will
  2. Pay off your credit cards
  3. Get term life insurance if you have a family to support
  4. Fund your 401k to the maximum
  5. Fund your IRA to the maximum
  6. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it
  7. Put six months worth of expenses in a money-market account
  8. 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
  9. 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

There you go. That’s it. Do these things and you will retire worry-free. Furthermore, you’ll live the rest of your life not having to worry about losing your job or being able to pay the bills.

I realize these things aren’t easy, but work towards them. Most of the people reading this post can go 9 for 9 if only they prioritize a little. If you’re not making much money, you can always save a small percentage somewhere you can’t touch it so easily. Do you smoke? Quit — and put away the $4 a pack. You’ll kill 2 birds with one stone that way (and maybe even save yourself).