Everything You Need to Know About Personal Finance On a 4×6 Index Card

Personal finance may sound incredibly complicated at times, but Harold Pollack – a professor at the University of Chicago – has written a comprehensive book on personal finance called The Index Card; this includes the rules he and his wife have been living by over the years.

Back in 2013, Pollack became famous for writing everything you need to know about personal finance on a 4×6 index  card.pollack-card

  • Max your 401(k) 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-advantaged 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

In his new book, Pollack goes ahead and details out each of the truths.  So, let us take a closer look at these truths and how they could help you reach financial security.

Saving 10% to 20% of your Income

One of the rules inside the book of Harold Pollack is that Americans should save at least 10 to 20% of their income. The total percentage an individual may save is subject to the income they earn in the first place, but also where they live, income tax and more.

Be Financially Ready to Buy a Home

Before you go ahead and buy your first home (or second home), you need to make sure you are financially ready to do so. A lot of people are so excited to have a home on their own, they often make the plunge before they are ready. Naturally, this can have some negative consequences where personal finance is concerned.

The second thing to take into account before you buy a home is that you always should buy a home that you will use, not a home you use to prove your status. It is not uncommon for couples without children to buy a three bedroom home. Even though this might be a good idea if the couple wants children in the future, it is not practical for those that do not.

Understanding the Fiduciary

If you have not heard the term fiduciary before, then it might be a good idea to buy Harold Pollack’s book. Fiduciary is a term used to describe a financial advisor who has your best interest at heart. Therefore, they will not give you high-cost funds or follow a lesser standard.

Still, many financial advisors are not fiduciaries and do provide high-cost funds – or work by a lesser standard. In Harold Pollack’s book, you will learn about the fiduciary in detail and how you can spot a financial advisor who does not have your best interest in mind.

Be Prepared for Every Eventuality

Most people only save what they “believe” they need, but they do not incorporate unforeseen circumstances such as illness, accidents and the loss of a job. If you want full financial security, then you must also consider these circumstances.

Having enough savings in an emergency fund is one way to ensure you are covered when disaster strikes, but there are other means you should take into consideration; this includes entitlements from social security and Medicare. There is a social safety net for those that need it, so make sure you are familiar with it before you encounter problems.


Financial security takes knowledge and hard work, but once you are familiar with the essentials, there is nothing stopping you from obtaining a secure financial future. So, if you would like to know more about the tips described above, be sure to acquire the book by Harold Pollack.

Disclosure: The information provided by The Financial Genie is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. You should consult with an attorney or other professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs. The Financial Genie does not make any guarantee or other promise as to any results that may be obtained from using our content. No one should make any investment decision without first consulting his or her own financial advisor and conducting his or her own research and due diligence. Additionally, some of the organizations with products on our site may pay us a referral fee or affiliate commission when you click to apply for those products.

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