Pollack Index Card

One Index Card with All the Financial Advice You’ll Ever Need

Well, the important stuff anyways, like how much of your income you should save and how to stay on top of your credit cards. It’s easy to over-complicate personal finance with big questions and What Ifs? Really, it all comes down to saving and making smart choices, but might get a little tricky when it comes to investments and planning for retirement. Still, Harold Pollack, professor at the University of Chicago, manged to fit all the financial advice you’ll ever need on one 4×6 index card.

What started out as a metaphor during a discussion with writer Helaine Olen, turned into a somewhat viral post from his iPhone sharing these investment tips:

Max your 401k or equivalent employee contribution.
Buy inexpensive, well diversified mutual funds such as Vanguard Target 20XX funds.
Never buy or sell an individual security. The person on the other side of the table knows more than you do about this stuff.
Save 20% of your money.
Pay your credit card balance in full every month.
Maximize tax-advantages savings vehicles like Roth, SEP and 529 accounts.
Pay attention to fees. Avoid actively managed funds.
Make financial advisor commit to a fiduciary standard.
Promote social insurance programs to help people when things go wrong.

If you have a steady income with some left over to save, buy yourself a pack of index cards, take one off the top, and write down Harold’s advice. They’re all most Americans will ever need to know about personal finance.

Brenda Harjala is the Community Manager for SuperMoney. Her mission is to help fight your evil debt blob and get your personal finances in tip top shape.
Photo: Harold Pollack