Guide and notes for personal finance
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LICENSE add readme and license Dec 20, 2013 update npocp link Oct 19, 2018

Personal Finance Creative Commons

This is an outline of our personal finance plan. I'm sharing this as a starting point for others to form their own plan, and also to gather feedback on what we can improve. If you have a suggestion, feel free to file an issue or email me at


  • Pay off loans, except ones with very low interest. e.g. 0.9% car loan. Builds credit, less than inflation.
  • Never keep a balance on credit cards, auto-pay everything in full
  • Ask for a credit increase every year, don't over do it
  • Carry less than 1/3 of credit limit in credit card balance
  • Check credit score once a year. CreditKarma has a better interface and suggestions for improving credit score.
  • Refinance for a lower interest rate on mortgages or large loans
  • Consider 401k loans. Up to $50k, prime rate, and interest and principal are both paid back into the account


  • 12 months of expenses in a high interest savings account
  • Budget out large purchases into monthly amounts to save. e.g. car, wedding, vacation



  • Health Savings Account (HSA). Maximize employer contributions.
    • Do not invest until balance would exceed minimum to avoid fees
    • Choose a plan that allows investment in index funds like Wells Fargo or Health Savings Administrators
    • Continue to pay medical expenses out of pocket when possible to maximize tax deferred growth
    • No penalties for non-medical withdrawals after 65. Can use as another retirement account.




  • Monthly review of spending with Mint. Categorize spending, note any large differences in monthly trends. Link all accounts.
  • Vanguard brokerage account. Using this for our Roth IRA and IRA.
  • Setup direct deposit and auto-pay for all accounts.
  • FI planning tool. Interesting to play with, but no longer using it.


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