It's time to take all those excuses that you're just not smart enough to figure out your finances and chuck them out the window. No more whining that you just can't balance your checkbook, understand your credit report, or find the perfect stock. And for all you smarty-pantses out there, don't assume your high IQ will protect your nest egg.
It turns out that IQ isn't related to wealth, even among brain surgeons and rocket scientists. That's the finding from some recent research by Jay Zagorsky, a scientist at Ohio State University's Center for Human Resource Research.
More income, more spending
Smarts can help you earn more. Zagorsky's survey of young baby boomers found that each IQ point can mean an extra $234 to $616 in income each year. But once you've got that money in your hands, it doesn't seem to matter much whether you're at the top or the bottom of your class. The extra dollars can slip through your fingers faster than you can say "E equals MC squared."
Zagorsky surveyed his participants about three indicators of financial difficulty, asking them whether they had missed a bill payment within the past five years, had ever filed for bankruptcy, or had maxed out a credit card. He found irregular patterns, and even discovered that among the smartest people, 6% had maxed out their credit cards and 11% occasionally miss bill payments.
That means you, too, can master the basics that can protect your income and turn it into wealth that will fund your retirement, protect your finances in an emergency, and help you achieve all your other goals in life. No excuses! Start here if you need to shape up your money management and make sure you're protecting your wealth:
Pay your bills on time. Escalating late fees, penalizing interest rates, and the possible ramifications for your credit report mean it's more important than ever to make sure all your checks get to your creditors on time. If you're a chronic procrastinator, look around at your electronic banking and automatic options. You can get more information about online banking in the Banking Center.
Control consumer credit. Although you might need a math degree to work out the interest rate calculations on your bill, it doesn't take a genius to know that carrying large credit card balances month after month can drain your checking account fast. Get that credit card debt under control with a plan to start paying more than the minimum payment each month. If you're not sure where to start, don't assume you're not smart enough to figure it out. (No excuses, remember?) Get help. Start in the Credit Center and jump into the fray at the Credit Cards and Consumer Debt discussion board, where you'll find lots of people who conquered their confusion.
Save for an emergency. Emergencies have a way of striking without first asking you to take an IQ test. We're all vulnerable. Minimize the effects that something terrible will throw your finances into turmoil by building a healthy emergency fund. Head to the Savings Center for more information about how much and where you might want to stash your money for safekeeping.
Save for retirement. Why do we want wealth, anyway? Most of us stockpile some money so we can someday wave good-bye to our daily commute and nagging supervisors. Saving for retirement doesn't have to be a complicated affair involving hedge funds, hot stock tips, and indecipherable paperwork. It's more important to save regularly than to develop a retirement investment system that only a nuclear engineer might understand. You can learn the basics quickly by taking a tour of the Retirement Center. If you really want to delve into the finer details, you'll find easy-to-understand help at the Rule Your Retirement newsletter.
For an overall checkup on the health of your wealth, take a look at the Motley Fool Green Light newsletter. You'll find advice about everything from real estate to retirement to taxes, all in language that any Fool can understand.
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