Tom's Finance Guide Part 1: The Plan

reading time 3 min

This was a draft. The final version is now available as a pay-what-you-want self-published book called Tom’s Finance Guide: Retire Rich!

When I was in my early 20s, someone sat me down, explained how to plan for retirement, how to manage my money, and gave me all the advice I needed to set myself up for a comfortable life no matter my income level.


Hell no!

I got zero advice! In my 20s I totally mis-spending my money! I had little to no investment! I didn’t understand 401ks and IRAs and I had no idea what the difference was between Roth and non-Roth… oh wait, Roth hadn’t been invented yet. Anyway…

Take a dollar bill. Hold it up and read it. Do you see any instructions printed on it? No. It is probably the only product you deal with so frequently that doesn’t have the instructions for use printed on it. Why don’t these things come with an owners manual? You buy a frozen burrito and it comes with 2 sets of instructions (microwave and conventional oven) but something as important as money? You’re left to figure it out all by yourself.

So what really happened?

Eventually I ended up with 20K in credit card debt, 40k in total debt, and…

And then someone asked me if I was saving for retirement.

What? How could I possibly save for retirement when I’m 40k in the hole?

Won’t social security be enough? It won’t? Holy shit.

I was upset, depressed and I felt cornered.

Was there nothing I could do?

Well, I did end up getting some advice. I did some research. Eventually I went from debt to zero, then from zero to being wealthy. (By “weathly” I mean “on target for a comfortable retirement.”)

In this series of blog posts I’m writing down everything that I wish I had been told in my 20s. Some of these things I learned “the hard way” (i.e. I made mistakes) and some I learned from reading personal finance books or getting advice from friends.

My goal in writing all this is to help you get started with some basic tips to follow until you can afford a licensed professional, financial advisor.

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed financial advisor. I’m actually pretty dumb when it comes to finance. You shouldn’t listen to me. You should hire a professional, licensed, financial advisor. Therefore I’ve been careful to make sure that this advice is the non-controversial “conventional wisdom” that you should follow until you have a professional advisor.

Let me be very clear…

  1. You need a professional, licensed, financial advisor.
  2. I am not one.
  3. You are going to procrastinate for years until you get one.
  4. Therefore, this advice is a bunch of “good enough” tips to hold you over until you get off your ass and find a financial advisor.

I can’t tell you how to manage your finances. I can, however, tell you what I did, or in some cases what I wish I had done.

WARNING: This is my story. It might not work for you. In particular, I have the advantage of working in tech (lots of benefits) and I have no kids (which simplifies things). That said, hopefully everyone will be able to get something useful from this.

Tom Limoncelli

Tom Limoncelli

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