The 2022 Wealth-Building Checklist
Every single step you need to take in order to build wealth—all in one place.
Meet Vivi Ton.
I met Vivi through our friend Jeremy Schneider over at Personal Finance Club. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Personal Finance Club is an online wealth-building course that I believe in so strongly, I named it Think Save Retire’s favorite resource for building wealth.
Without exaggerating, I firmly believe that I will become a millionaire as a direct result of the knowledge I gained through the course. With that being said, it’s important to note that PFC is not a get-rich-quick scheme. They aren’t selling super-secret stock tips, crypto-hacks, or multi-level-marketing formulas.
What they are selling is a master class in personal finance. You shouldn’t expect to get rich overnight, but if you follow along and absorb the information—you should definitely expect to build wealth over time.
One of my favorite resources from the course is Jeremy’s annual investing checklist. It’s basically a wealth-building cheat sheet and an invaluable tool that the fine folks at PFC are willing to share free of charge.
Vivi is joining us today as a representative of Personal Finance Club to talk about the checklist, the online course, and how being a part of PFC has impacted her life.
TSR: This checklist is intended to be executed in order, right? Can you talk about why that’s so important?
Vivi: Yes! Start with item number one. Put as much money as you can in it, and if you have money left over, move on to the next item on the list. Skip what doesn’t apply. This list is prioritized in a way that helps maximize the amount of money you can save/make. It takes various benefits into consideration such as tax advantages and lower fees.
Taxes and fees really add up, but if you don’t follow this list in order, it’s not the end of the world! Investing early and often is the MOST important thing, regardless of the details.
BUT here is a brief explanation of each account and why it’s in its order:
1. 401(k) up to the match: Free money! You’ll essentially get a guaranteed 100% rate of return.
2. Max out HSA: This account gives you multiple tax benefits when you spend it on qualified medical expenses, with unlimited investment options.
3. Max out Roth IRA: This account gives you a tax benefit with unlimited investment options.
4. Max out 401(k): This account gives you a tax benefit with limited investment options.
5. Put the rest in a taxable brokerage: This account gives you no tax benefit.
TSR: I noticed that contributing to a 401(k) is on the list twice. Can you explain that?
Vivi: As you can see from the explanation above, a 401(k) is not the greatest place to invest. Your investment options are limited to what your employer has made available to you, and it may come with higher fees. HOWEVER, if you get a 401(k) match, free money is the best deal to take advantage of, regardless of the fees.
TSR: For our readers who are unfamiliar, can you shed some light on what an HSA is, and who it’s right for?
Vivi: An HSA stands for a “Health Savings Account”, which you can only open if you have an HSA compatible, high deductible health insurance plan. The monthly premiums tend to be low, but this means your out-of-pocket expenses will be higher. SO, the government lets you open this investing account to help you pay for those expenses!
What’s great about this account is that your contributions are tax free, the growth is tax free, and your withdrawals are tax free if they are being spent on qualified medical expenses. If you never spend the money on medical expenses, it can be used for retirement! (But in this case you’ll have to pay taxes when you withdraw)
However, we don’t recommend that you choose an insurance plan just for the ability to open an HSA. Prioritize your health insurance needs as that is more important!
TSR: What do you recommend in the case that someone has to skip a step? For instance, people who have jobs that don’t offer a 401(k), or if they don’t qualify for an HSA.
Vivi: If something doesn’t apply to you, you can just skip a step, and don’t worry about it! What’s most important is investing as much money as you can, as often as you can.
TSR: What is your role on the PFC team?
Vivi: I work on whatever it takes to help the business grow. Since we’re a small team, we wear lots of hats. My role could be operations, marketing, content creation, customer service, anything and everything!
TSR: How did you get involved with PFC and what were you doing before?
Vivi: I got my job with PFC by simply applying! I made this video to catch Jeremy’s attention and it worked!
Before that, I was a quality engineer in the aerospace industry. After a few years, I made the difficult decision to quit my job in order to find work that was more fulfilling. I became a freelance graphic and web designer after that, and it was rough. My parents were disappointed in me and I also struggled to believe in myself.
TSR: Did the leap of faith you took by leaving your engineering job pay off?
Vivi: For the first few years, no. I wasn’t making money, didn’t know what I was doing, and was feeling lost. But this experience has taught me a lot about my relationship between money, work, and happiness.
After lots of self-reflection, trying lots of things, and failing many times, it led me to this job at PFC and it finally paid off! I’m now doing something I love, helping others, and making an engineer’s income! None of this would have happened if I didn’t take risks, so I hope my story inspires you to take a chance and go after that thing.
TSR: The investing checklist is an invaluable tool that comes with the PFC course. What else can people expect in the course?
Vivi: Students will learn how to project their future wealth, how stocks work, how to open an account, which funds to buy, how taxes work on each of the accounts, withdrawal strategies during early retirement, and so much more! Investing is much simpler than you think it is, and I truly believe that this course will change your life.