Monday Motivator: Get Out an Index Card

I am reading The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack.  As it implies, the book comes from an idea of writing down the basic financial advice most people need on one 4 by 6 index card.

As I’m reading, I realize that most of this is not new. Many of us, without even thinking, could come up with some of these rules, such as:

  • Save 10-20 percent of your salary.
  • Pay off credit cards in full each month.
  • Start saving for retirement.

But as statistics show, many people don’t do these things at all. And, oddly enough, it’s not for lack of knowledge or even lack of funds. We just don’t.

The book has made me think about other parts of our lives where the basic rules for success are not numerous or complicated and could fit on an index card:


  • Go to class.
  • Take notes.
  • Buy and read the textbook.
  • Study everyday.
  • Start early on assignments.
  • Ask questions.


  • Be punctual.
  • Ask questions.
  • Be cordial.
  • Do the work assigned.
  • Listen.


  • Show up.
  • Listen.
  • Ask questions.
  • Be considerate.
  • Forgive.
  • Laugh.
  • Do your share and then a little more.


It’s not a mystery. Most of us know what we need to do. The real mystery is why so many of us don’t do those things.


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