Don't be seduced by the gift of gab. If you're out shopping today, don't fall for slick sales blarney. Smart consumers comparison shop. Begin online. Check out die-hard comparison shopper Jessie's useful linkage. Her fave for the best prices: Woot!
Build up your post-work pot of gold. You'll be glad you started tossing in those coins now when you're ready to retire. In tax season, retirement gets extra attention since many folks take advantage of the deductibility of traditional IRA contributions. Others find a Roth account is a better fit. With either savings plan, you can put up to $4,000 ($5,000 if you're 50 or older) in your IRA for 2006 if you get the money in the account by April 17. If you've already maxed out last year's contributions, start stashing 2007 cash (same limits as 2006) now.
Look beyond the luck of the Irish. No one will ever turn down a little good fortune, but a solid financial plan is the surest way to maximize your green. A good example is Silicon Valley Blogger's Money 101: My Basic Financial Plan.
I also like the "Unified Theory of Everything Financial," created by Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams and revealed in his book Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel. Its nine points:
- Make a will.
- Pay off your credit cards.
- Get term life insurance if you have a family to support.
- Fund your 401k to the maximum.
- Fund your IRA to the maximum.
- Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it.
- Put six months worth of expenses in a money-market account.
- Take whatever money is left over and invest 70 percent in a stock index fund and 30 percent in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement.
- If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issues), hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges a percentage of your portfolio.
Want a bit more details on getting your finances in order? Then check out MsMoney.com, where you'll find info on setting financial goals and steps to achieve them.
And on this day when we're all a little bit Irish, I'll close with this traditional blessing from the Emerald Isle:
May you always have work
for your hands to do.
May your pockets hold
always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright
on your windowpane.
May the rainbow be certain
to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend
always be near you.
And may God fill your heart
with gladness to cheer you.
Leprechaun image courtesy of Until Then Graphics