Balancing Priorities

Treat finances like exercising and do it every day

Key Points
  • Spend time each week going over your finances
  • Time is money
  • Ignorance is not bliss

Like most good habits, the key to financial success boils down to spending more time and attention on our personal finances, according to Annamaria Lusardi, the chair of economics and accountancy at the George Washington University School of Business.

"We don't floss, we don't eat well or exercise as much as we should. Personal finance is the same. We need to put time aside to do it well," the renowned economist said. Lusardi holds a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University and has also taught at Princeton, Dartmouth College, the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Columbia Business School and Harvard Business School.

Her savings tip, which is part of a larger campaign by the Council for Economic Education to promote financial literacy, is to spend time each week going over your expenses and savings. "If I don't pay attention, I'm likely to spend more," she said of her own experience. "Ignorance is not bliss. Inaction is not bliss."

Ignorance is not bliss.
Annamaria Lusardi
George Washington University School of Business.

As a freshly minted Ph.D., Lusardi said she made her own missteps when it came to saving. "I didn't take advantage of many opportunities, like maximizing a 401(k)," she said.

"We all have a great asset, which is time. Time works in our favor because of interest compounding."

More from Balancing Priorities:
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Retirement just isn't a reality for some
The 50 percent tax penalty that's easy to dodge

"The young have incredible opportunity to build wealth but we don't take advantage of it," she added. "That's the biggest challenge."

Other money-saving tips will roll out on social media throughout the month with the hashtag #MySavingsTip.