Scott Adams does a great job with Dilbert and he presents a simple, sound financial strategy in Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel, page 172, Everything you need to know about financial planning:
- Make a will.
- Pay off your credit cards.
- Get term life insurance if you have a family to support.
- Fund your 401(k) to the maximum.
- Fund your IRA to the maximum.
- Buy a house if you want to live in a house and you can afford it.
- Put six months’ expenses in a money market fund. [this was wise, given the currently very low money market rates I would use "high yield" bank savings account now, FDIC insured - John]
- Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% 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.
I would amend a bit with: secure health, disability and homeowners insurance, see Personal Finance Tips. And funding 401(k)s and IRAs is wise. If you have to make some cutbacks, only partially funding them is a trade-off I would accept.
In a recent blog post he also spelled out an obvious exception:
Astute observers will point out that anyone who had a lot of money in stocks, as the model suggests, would have gotten hammered this year. That’s true, but one of the obvious exceptions to the model is that if you think you need to withdraw your money in the next five years, you should reduce your stock holdings to avoid the risk of just such a downturn.