Finance on An Index Card!
The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated
Financial journalism tends to be full of bite-size tips and “5 point plans” and the like. Yes, we at Vestpod do it too. After all, everyone likes to digest their data in easily manageable chunks. But sometimes, the ultimate crib guide comes about quite by accident and becomes a genuine phenom. That’s what happened with the off-the-cuff money advice of Harold Pollack, the University of Chicago professor whose new book The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t’ Have To Be Complicated is proving a hit with readers and critics alike.
So what’s it all about?
Back in 2013, Pollack was interviewing the finance writer Helaine Olen, and mentioned in passing that he believed that all the financial advice you ever need could be written on an index card.
Later on he was encouraged to put his money where his mouth is and actually produce such a card. And guess what, it went viral. And, somewhat ironically, spawned a full-length book!
Who is he again?
Not a financial advisor, but a money-minded academic who had in the past needed to get smart with personal finance to get himself and his wife on the road to wealth-health.
And what did the card say?
Scribbled in typically messy Professorial handwriting (see pic), his top tips are heavily accented towards the specifics of the US finance world, so we – polyglot translators and cultural barrier-crossers that we are! – have edited them slightly for use here in the UK.
Here’s what you need to know:
1 - maximise your employee pension contributions
2 - invest cheap, diverse stocks and shares
3 – don’t trade individual shares yourself: your investment manager knows more than you
4 – save 20% of your earnings
5 – make the most of tax free savings like ISAs
6 – pay off your credit card every month
7 – look out for hidden banking and investment fees
And what do we say?
Spot on Professor P! He really has encapsulated all the main tenets of financial good sense with these guidelines: paying off debt; saving and investing. Headline-grabbing, Twitter-friendly things like this are often gimmicky and ill thought out, but this one – and the book it has now become – seems like solid good sense to us. And there’s always something so romantic and inspiring about the old “sketched it out on the back of a napkin” story as opposed to “worked hard for years refining my theorem and then shopped around for a paying audience”.
Check out the book!