(Collage by Joy Olivia Miller)
How to get your $$$ in order before you turn 30
Harold Pollock’s new index card is for young adults.
All the personal finance advice you need would fit on a 3-by-5 card, Harold Pollack quipped in a 2013 interview. Immediately people wanted to know: Where’s the card? So Pollack, the Helen Ross Professor in the School of Social Service Administration, scribbled down some ideas and posted a photo, which went viral. For College Review, Pollack created this new, potentially viral index card specifically for recent graduates.

Professor Harold Pollack’s handwritten index card for young adults. (Courtesy Harold Pollack)

  • Pay your credit card bill in full every month.
  • Keep a budget and spending diary. Pay cash up front whenever you can.
  • Don’t smoke. Mind your alcohol and dining spending, too.
  • Start saving early. Make it automatic, ideally through a 401(k).
  • If you have a job and no kids, aim to save 20% of pretax income.
  • Invest in low-fee total stock index funds, ideally in a 401(k).
  • Open a Roth IRA if you don’t have access to a 401(k).
  • Don’t buy individual stocks or try to time the markets.
  • Think federal first when borrowing for school. And don’t combine public and private loans if you consolidate.
  • A focused and rigorous major matters more than where you go to college.
  • Don’t push your friends to overspend. And beware the same peer pressures applied to you.