In a big hurry? Download a 2-page overview of personal finance.
Read below for richer details, though. Pardon the pun.
1. Know what you spend.
How much did you spend on food last week? What do you pay for housing (rent, repairs, utilities, tax, etc) every year? Without knowing how you’re spending money, you can’t begin to make any money. Here’s how to track your spending.
2. Start with little steps, like your bank.
You shouldn’t be paying any annual fees. You should have a good credit card. And you should know the tricks to save yourself money from the banks. You can start today by calling your bank, checking what annual fees you’re paying, and asking them to switch you to a free account. Details on how to save on banking.
3. Your money should earn more money for you.
At the end of the year, if you didn’t work at all and didn’t spend one penny, you should still have more money. Even when your money is just sitting there, it earns you interest. What’s even better is that, if you invest sensibly in stocks and other areas, you can see excellent and relatively predictable returns over the long term. Details on using your money to earn more.
4. Don’t let money run your life.
Certain things are worth spending a lot on if they make you happy. I love pens and salsa, even if they don’t make financial sense. The minute your rules start making you feel crazy, it’s time to re-examine your rules. More about not going money-crazy.
5. Don’t be stupid.
Everything I write on this site is centered around aggressive but sensible investing. That means investing for a 10-year outlook (better: 30) and ignoring the morons on CNBC every day. Buying and selling stocks every day also sounds sexy, but it’s actually very dumb.
It means having a goal and planning for it, not cashing out the minute things go bad.
It means recognizing that if you’re in your twenties, your tolerance for risk is enormous–you can make more aggressive investments, use compounds interest to earn tons of money, and ignore many lower-yield investments your parents have to make out of necessity. More about thinking aggressively.
Finally, Not Being Stupid means you can learn these things yourself, not pay someone else to do them for you.
Do you know your actual earning potential?
Get started with the Earning Potential quiz. Get a custom report based on your unique strengths, and discover how to start making extra money — in as little as an hour.
Takes 3 min