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5 Keys To Financial Success

The Daily Ticker
Daily Ticker

By Bernice Napach

If Alexa von Tobel had her way, there would be a primetime reality show that focuses on educating people about their personal finances, just as "The Biggest Loser" educates people on eating healthy.

"I love that show," says von Tobel, a Harvard graduate. "The six million people who tune in every Tuesday learn about healthy choices and the basics of living a healthy lifestyle. I wish there was a show like that about personal finance."

Von Tobel didn't create a TV show but did probably the next best thing. With $75,000 of her own funds and $1.1 million seed money from Goldman Sachs, she started LearnVest, a Web site dedicated to helping ordinary people organize their financial life. "You can stop a lot of [financial] problems from starting if you simply empower people to have some of the financial basics in their head before they start," she says in an interview with The Daily Ticker.

Her first words of advice: have a financial plan. "Understand what you're trying to achieve for the next three to five years and understand how to dice up all of the dollars you take home every month."

Her other top recommendations:

-Live by a budget

-Prioritize debt repayment

-Have 6 months worth of emergency savings on hand

-Start saving for retirement now

-Negotiate your salary

Von Tobel says many people haven't grasped these "financial basics" because they're not part of the public school education system. "There's a huge lack of financial literacy in America simply because it's not taught formally in our school decisions......yet it is a topic that affects us every single day of our lives."