3 Ways to Improve Your Financial Health in 30 Minutes

Last week I gave a presentation on 3 ways to improve your financial health. I love getting down to the nuts and bolts of personal finance! We (including financial planners) often make the topic more complicated than it needs to be. When you really gets down to it, you can address 80% of your financial management problems with three things: a budget, a savings plan, and a debt payoff plan.

In this article I’ll explain these 3 points, and for each I’ll give you a simple exercise you can implement this weekend--each one taking about 30 minutes.

Should I Pay Off Debt or Save?

If there’s any question more common in the personal finance world, it’s this one: Should I pay off debt or save that money instead?

I love this question, because it’s addressing a financial topic that I wish were on the forefront of more minds. Paying off debt and saving are two great ways to utilize our money that we should all be thinking more about. Your situation isn’t as cheery if you’re having to decide between paying off debt, saving, purchasing a new sports car, or buying a bigger home you can’t afford.

What Abraham Lincoln Did About His Huge Debt Problem

Unlike some influential figures of his time, Abraham Lincoln did not grow up as a child of privilege. Born in a one-room log cabin to humble parents, he completed backbreaking work alongside his father to scrape out a family living.

Lincoln could wield an axe and clear land like no other, but he didn’t enjoy the hard labor of country life. Determined to free himself of his “country bumpkin” upbringing, he set his eye on more prosperous, risky pursuits.

His ambition got him into a big financial jam early on, but the real story is what Lincoln did to get out of it.

Is There Any Such Thing as "Good Debt"?

In my Financial Essentials class, Week 2 often covers the topic of debt. It starts with a conversation about compounding interest, and how this “Eighth Wonder of the World” can either hurt you or help you through “good” or “bad” debt.

But a recent conversation with a friend has me thinking: Is there really any such thing as good debt for the typical family?

I’d like to discuss two forms of debt which we gladly justify--or label as “good debt”--and for a moment take a contrarian view as to why these commonly accepted forms of good debt may not be so great.