Mike’s Personal Financial Management and Investing Tips

I was chatting with some good friends about investing recently, and I realized that I
consistently love to make a few key points about personal financial management and investing tips (focused on long-term investing, not on getting out of debt), so I thought I’d share with the Internet.

Part I:  Personal Finances

  1. Spend less than you make (unless you’re a child or a student), don’t wait on this
  2. If you’re just starting out, setup your 401k and automate investing contributions ASAP so you don’t get used to a bigger paycheck when you could be enjoying compound interest (thanks Steve L.!)
  3. People are lazy, so you should automate as much of your finances as possible to ensure that laziness doesn’t hurt your ability to invest in your future (see Ramit Sethi‘s amazing Ramit’s 12-minute guide to automating your accounts video)
    1. Jun 30, 2015 Update:  Ramit just put out The Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance Money Management Made Simple, a great, comprehensive site that walks through personal finance automation, saving, and investing
  4. Don’t be afraid of the market — inflation means that money is worth less than it was last year, so you need to invest in something (e.g. stock market, real estate, businesses) so avoid losing money (and hopefully by making more) (thanks Scott M.)
  5. Don’t let money become the most important thing in your life — learn how to plan your finances, manage them, and then move on whatever it is you should be doing (Finding your passion/purpose means making time to think, explore, read, etc. (see these 3 great recommendations from Gerhard Pilcher)

Part II:  Long-term Investing

  1. Cool, sexy investing stuff like market timing, buying individual stocks, and buying into IPO stocks are horrible ideas unless you are smarter than lots of other people and willing to spend significant time beating the market (see Warren Buffet) — “normal” people (those not obsessed with investing in their free time) should focus on automating weekly or monthly investments (see Dollar Cost Averaging) in boring, low-fee index funds, ETFs, or mutual funds (Vanguard Target Funds, based on your estimated year of retirement is a great place to start)
  2. Don’t focus on just reducing expenses (see Mr. Money Mustache blog) — you can increase savings/investing by reducing spending or by increasing income (see Ramit Sethi’s blog, e.g. getting a raise, a new job, or starting a business)
  3. Perfect can be the enemy of good — don’t wait to know everything to start investing:
    1. Spend less money than you make
    2. Pay off  debts (see Debt-snowball Method)
    3. Get your 401k match, if available
    4. Setup a Roth IRA and contribute
    5. Just get started!


In summary, in the world of finances:  Boring is lucrative and remember that you’re lazy

Disclaimer:  I’m not an investing professional.

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