The Ultimate Personal Finance Checklist

What’s the brilliant hack that pilots and surgeons (among many others) have figured out to increase their success rates and eliminate silly mistakes?

Since the title of this article is right in front of you, you’ve probably already guessed: checklists.

Now we’ve created a checklist for you and your finances, so you can take control of your money and set a course for financial freedom.

The first step is to organize your finances. This means gathering together all of the information about your financial accounts and current spending. (Read more)

Your budget doesn’t have to be complicated. But you need to make sure you’re not spending more than you make and that you’re setting aside money for things like retirement, emergencies, and longer-term savings goals. (Read more)

Before doing anything else, make sure you have $1,000 available in a savings or other account that you don’t use for day-to-day spending. (Read more)

If your budget reveals that you spend more than you make, you’ll need to cut expenses to turn that around. Even if you already spend less than you make, your other financial goals will be easier if you cut out some unnecessary expenses and have more excess cash at the end of every month. (Read more)

There’s no room in a healthy financial picture for high-interest debt (a.k.a. “bad” debt). Now’s the time to make a plan and get serious about paying down debts like credit cards and high-interest personal loans.

You’ve saved $1,000, which is great. But now it’s time to build out a proper emergency fund that will help protect you in case of more serious financial calamities.

Do you need life insurance? Are you earning competitive rewards on your credit card? How does your mortgage rate stack up? It’s time to look closely at what products you’re using (and not using) and make changes as necessary.

If you get in a car and just start driving you’ll definitely get somewhere. But will it be somewhere you want to go? It’s no different with your money. If you don’t set goals for your money, it’s very unlikely that you’ll reach the destination you’re hoping for.

Investing is one of the best ways to grow your wealth and prepare for retirement. But before you start investing, you’re going to need a brokerage account.

Now that you have a brokerage account, it’s time to grow your money by investing.

Investing is great. But you know what’s even better? Investing tax free. Now it’s time to open investing accounts that have preferential tax treatment and can allow you to invest tax free.

Whether retirement is right around the corner or still decades off, the sooner you start preparing for it, the better your retirement is likely to be.

View a printable version of this checklist