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The Index Card

Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

By Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack
  • Read in 12 minutes
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  • Contains 7 key ideas
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The Index Card by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack

The Index Card (2016) simplifies personal finance. These blinks cover everything from getting a good deal on your mortgage to securing quality life insurance, starting your own savings account and even choosing a financial advisor.

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Saving money today is hard, but a few tips can help.

We’ve all been there; you cash your paycheck only to see it disappear as you pay rent, cover utilities and buy groceries. And let’s not forget the ever-present threat of an unexpected car repair.

So, how can you pull yourself out of this financial debacle and gain control over your money?

Naturally, it starts with saving, but that’s easier said than done. After all, the median annual household income in America dropped by $3,000 between 1998 and 2013 as wages decreased or stagnated. At the same time, the cost of living has gone up.

This perfect storm of plummeting wages and rising costs has resulted in some frightening statistics: a whopping 27 percent of US households have a net worth of just $5,000 or less, and 47 percent of Americans say they couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency without borrowing money or selling something.

Since so many people are struggling to get their financial houses in order, if you don’t have any savings, you shouldn’t feel bad. But you should take action. If you fail to come up with a savings plan soon, you’ll never be able to invest for the future or even pay off your debt.

Think of it this way: if you save just 10 percent of your income every month, by the end of your first year you’ll already have a whole month’s salary put away!

Here are a few tips to get you started:

First, use cash instead of plastic. This may sound silly, but lots of studies have shown that people spend over 20 percent more when paying with a credit card or online than they do when they pay with physical money. Spending bills and coins is less abstract, so it’s harder for people to part with them.

You can also set up an automatic savings account. These automatically deduct and save a portion of your paycheck every month, which means you don’t have to endure the temptation of spending it. Lots of employers can even reroute some of your salary toward a savings account for you.

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