The absolute first question you should consider regarding your finances is: Am I looking to optimize my current situation or am I looking for great improvement?
The great majority of what passes for financial advice is directed at optimizing instead of drastic improvement. Any tip, hint, or singular transaction is a tweak on your financial situation and should be treated as such.
Not that you have to be in poor shape to experience drastic improvement. You don’t.
In fact, for most people, simply understanding their current situation – what they own, what they make, what they spend, and what they owe – can be a drastic improvement. Much better than spending energy on some minor issue.
So, don’t be distracted by the shiny object that is most advice you might hear. Get the basics down first:
- Protect yourself with the right insurance and estate plan
- Know where your money is going when you spend it, and why
- Invest with the goal of getting market-based returns
- Plan out your lifetime inflows, outflows, and investment returns so that you won’t have to live off your kids in retirement
Once you get these down then, maybe – just maybe – do some tweaking to optimize your situation.
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