The Quick & Dirty Financial Flow Sheet
It is quick and it is dirty financial flow sheet. Okay, so it isn’t even a flow sheet, but whatever. I stopped liking flowsheets back in second year of medical school while trying to figure out renal physiology so forgive me. This post is by no means exhaustive, but I think if JUST ONE PERSON actually does something with it, my day will be tremendously made. The key is starting today so please enjoy!
Save For Retirement!
Are you working, you better be! If not, get a job! And then get your employer’s match in your 401k, or 403b, etc. Never leave free money offered to you on the table. EVER. If you do not have a 401K option, then Open a Roth IRA. Differences between a Roth and a Traditional IRA stem from when you want to be taxed. If you want to be taxed now (before your money has the opportunity to grow in your investment vehicle, which is a very good idea) choose the Roth, if you want to be taxed later (after your money has grown and you have a lot more of it to be taxed) choose the Traditional. Anyone can open them, and I am of the camp that everyone should open a Roth, even high-income earners. The Roth gives you the opportunity to watch your money grow tax-free since you have already paid taxes on it when you invested it (this is called post-tax dollars). Have you started a Roth IRA? If so, pat yourself on the back. Do you need to start one? Read on, there are actually some steps that are prerequisites to step one… That was mean of me I know, but I did tell you it wasn’t a flow sheet, the rest should flow logically. I will show you how to set a Roth up I promise, but not in this post- you have some work to do first!
Start To Budget Or At Least Know Where Your Money Goes Monthly!
Put together a budget and figure out where your money is going. Mint is an excellent tool for this, it’s very secure, free, and it tracks your spending, savings, checkings, and investments. It automatically categorizes your spending so you can look back over the last however to see how much you have spent on whatever. Did I mention that it is free? I have used it for 7+ years and I have never had an issue with it, it’s great. Personal Capital is just as good and I would say even better on the investment front, but you should start first with simple budgeting and savings. Say you don’t like to budget or maybe you never have and you have vowed you never will… Well, how is that working for you? At least do this: get your credit card statement from last month and figure out where all your money goes. If you are like most Americans, you have been hemorrhaging money like crazy! Cut ties with the things that want you to cut ties with your money- the other option is for you to remain broke, many of us choose this route. It is time for you to figure out where your money is going, I can’t stress this enough, it is so important.
Start To Save 15% Of Your Income.
Maybe you don’t think retirement is for you. Well then save for a house, a car, a college degree, or a future expense. Save to pay off your debt! You won’t get there without a plan so start planning for something! On that note, income and wealth are two separate things. Learning the difference is easy, making the difference is hard. You probably think you could become rich if you just made enough money, but the honest to God truth is you have enough money, you just don’t use it right. Likely. you already allocate 15% of your paycheck off to something right now whether it is a car loan, a credit card payment, or a membership to that club you never use. I will say it again: cut ties with the things that want you to cut ties with your money. Sell your expensive car that lost thousands of dollars the day you drove it off the lot, remove from your billfold that pathetic piece of plastic that perpetually and almost prophetically places you penitent, drop that membership to that club that you frequent twice a year! Get a beater, a pair of scissors, and a good pair of running shoes and voila! Your future self-thanks you. Get savvy about paying yourself now and start doing it! 15% of your paycheck, let it belong to you. Put it in a savings account and don’t touch it!
Fund Your Emergency Fund
Congrats! You are now becoming your own bank. 3 to 6-months of living expenses is a good number to reach for and you won’t know this if you don’t figure out your budget! Don’t put this in your local .02% interest bank account. Open up an Ally Online Banking Account where they offer you a whopping 1.25% interest rate on their savings account! Hey, it’s about 50 times better than .02% and you will feel pretty smart and you will literally be 50 times richer (at least when it comes to the interest that your bank is willing to offer you on your money)!
Run Towards Your Creditors With Some, But Not All Cash In Hand
After saving for a time, after you have saved up an Emergency Fund- If you have crazy amounts of credit card debt, this is what you do: save up 2/3 of what you owe on each card, call the company and barter 2/3 what you owe as a onetime payment requesting they cancel the rest of the debt. If they say no, speak to the manager. If they say no, tell them you are paying off the next credit card on the list. Call back in a couple of days and try again. Persistence my friend. Some money is better than no money and they get that, many do accept one-time payments of a smaller amount. When you have negotiated properly send them a check. NEVER give them access to your checking account. If you have credit card problems, stop using them.
Pay Down Student Loan/Mortgage Debt Vs. Investing
There are lots of things to consider here and it is not a one size fits all solution. It is possible to do both, see my post of What I Did With My Med School Debt and How I Invest In a Roth IRA. A good rule of thumb is that if you have debt that has an interest rate of greater than 5%, you should be paying off your debt. Never invest prior to completing steps one through five or if you have high-interest loans still yet to pay down. Also, understand, and this is crucial you are not going to get rich quickly by investing. No, not by smart investing. Your investment goal should be long-term (10+ years). When you think investment, you should think retirement and funding your bucket list, not Boiler Room or the Wolf of Wall Street. These steps will take a lot of time to work and complete so start early and begin learning now about finance. More to come on investing in a future post, but if I were to sum it up in a sentence it would look like this: Start with whatever income you currently have right now, with that income start to save, and with those savings, after a time, and after you have learned more about investing, start to invest.
That’s it. I guess it wasn’t all that quick, nor was it dirty… Sorry if I let you down, at least I hope you learned something! What are you going to do with this information today?
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