Thursday, January 19, 2006


My personal finance kick began late last year when I discovered that I'm almost out of credit card debt. With that moment of bliss came a startling realization: I know how to manage debt. I have no idea how to manage savings.

All the screaming about The One Cardinal Rule of Finances for Young Adults -- "Start Your 401k NOW" -- had gotten that tiny bit through. I've had a 401k since I was 20, and when I started a job five years ago that actually offered a match, I began putting in the maximum amount my employer matches (4%). That is the only fiscally savvy thing I have ever done: I have a 401k balance hovering in the lowish-five-figures. I have no other assets or savings. I don't know how to organize savings: investments? CDs? Buy a really nice mattress to stuff cash under?

I hit the bookstore, and found tons of self-help books on finance. Most made me want to flee in panic. I'm in my twenties. I don't have a mortgage, kids, estate issues, tangled investments or any of the complications that financial advice writers focus on so they can pad their books out to decent lengths. The information I'm after is much more basic -- for instance, should cash-for-savings go into a retirement account like my 401k, or into something shorter term? What are the best short-term options?

So, welcome to my personal finance blog, where I'll write about helpful info and tips I pick up while attempting to turn my financial house of cards into some kind of foundation.