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The inspiration for this post comes from a Robert Kiyosaki quote, “My banker never asked me for a copy of my report card.” In his book Rich Dad's Guide to Becoming Rich Without Cutting Up Your Credit Cards, he claims his “rich dad” (yea, yea, I know) taught him that after you finish school, your report card becomes your Profit and Loss Sheet or Income Statement (and perhaps also your Balance Sheet or net worth).
I thought it might make for an interesting post if we discussed a “report card” for the rest of your life. Now, this is a financial site, so we're only going to talk about the financial report card. Obviously, there are things in life that are far more important than money such as health, relationships, and spirituality. But today we're only going to look at finances.
In this school, there are six grades:
- Financial Literacy
Let's see if your financial GPA is good enough to get into med school. Maximum grade for each category is an A, minimum is an F.
Here's how to grade this category. If you are financially independent, give yourself an A. If you have a liquid net worth of $1 Million or more but are not financially independent, give yourself a B. If you have a six-figure liquid net worth, give yourself a C. If you have a positive net worth, give yourself a D. If not, start with an F. Raise your grade by one if you're maxing out all available retirement accounts including Backdoor Roth IRA(s) and an HSA if you are using an HDHP. Subtract one if you are investing in individual securities or actively managed mutual funds AND these are not legacy investments you're stuck with due to low basis. Also, subtract one if you own any real estate properties that did not have positive cash flow over the last year. Subtract one if you have more than 5% of your investments in cryptocurrency, precious metals, or options. Subtract another one if you use any technical analysis or market timing method beyond a simple moving average in a tax-protected account. Subtract another one if you believe whole life insurance is a good investment or if you are paying 1% or more of your portfolio a year in investment fees.
If you are debt-free, you get an A. Consider the debts you have – mortgage, student loans, car loans, medical debt, and credit card debt (not including a card on automatic payment for the full amount each month.) For each of these that you have, drop your grade by one. For example, if you have a mortgage and student loans, you get a C. If you have no debt at an after-tax rate over 3% and have consciously made a decision to invest that money instead of paying off the debt AND are actually doing so, you may raise your grade by up to two grades. If you have a mortgage over 2X gross income or student loans over 1X your gross income or expected gross income if still in school/training), lower your grade by one grade for each. If you owe the IRS money or have a debt you would be embarrassed to admit (like pet debt or lawn mower debt) subtract another grade.
If you have (or do not need) disability insurance, term life insurance, health insurance, and liability (including malpractice and umbrella) insurance, give yourself an A. For each of those you do not have (and need), subtract one grade. Also subtract a grade for each type of insurance you are carrying that you do not need – permanent life insurance, cancer insurance, accidental death insurance, iPhone insurance, and consumer warranties you paid extra for with a minimum grade of F.
In this section, we're going to discuss your financial muscles and ability to save money; think of it as the Physical Education of personal finance. If you are financially independent or saving 30% or more of your gross income, give yourself an A. If you are saving 25-29%, gives yourself a B. 20-24% gets you a C. 10-19% gets you a D. Below that, you get an F. If you have a written budget, add one grade. If you are a student add two grades. If you are a resident or fellow, add one grade. Add another grade if you are in training and have a written plan for your first twelve months of attending paychecks.
If you are financially independent, give yourself an automatic A. If your income is in the top 10% for your specialty/profession, give yourself an A. Top 25%, make it a B. Top 50%, make it a C. Top 75%, a D. Lowest quartile, that's an F. Add one grade if your income has increased each of the last five years. Add another grade if more than 25% of your taxable income comes from a source that is taxed at a lower rate than your earned income, such as qualified dividends, long-term capital gains, real estate income mostly sheltered by depreciation, or a small business where you do not materially participate (and thus save payroll taxes on that income.)
There are dozens of financial literacy tests out there. If you could write your own, give yourself an A. Likewise, if you are the go-to person in your social circles for financial questions or if you could write a financial book that somebody unrelated to you would buy. If you routinely ace financial literacy tests, give yourself a B. If you would miss a few questions, give yourself a C. If you would miss a lot of questions, give yourself a D. If you would be embarrassed by your performance or have never read a single financial book, give yourself an F.
Figuring Out Your Financial GPA
Okay, let's add up the damage. For each A, give yourself 4 points, each B 3 points, each C 2 points, and each D 1 point. Add them all up and divide by 6. What is your GPA?
- 3.5-4.0 – Congratulations! That would actually get you into medical school.
- 3.0-3.4 – Not too bad, other professional schools are still an option!
- 2.5-2.9 – That's not bad. Perhaps you could get an MBA.
- 2.0-2.4 – We're not going to throw you off the basketball team.
- 1.0-1.9 – You're on academic probation.
- < 1.0 – I hope this isn't the only post on this site you read today.
What do you think? How did you do? Is your GPA lower than you would like? What do you plan to do about it? Comment below!