Many people move through life without a solid understanding of their personal finances or how to improve their financial standing. The first step to financial security is understanding your finances. This does not mean a basic understanding of broad financial concepts but a deep understanding of both your current and projected finances.
The most common mistake as individuals begin to get a handle on their money is a lack of a realism. In today’s society we have all become adept at spin; we construct our words carefully to portray ourselves or our agenda in the best possible light. Finance is not abstract, cash flow is finite and perception is NOT reality.
The second mistake is a form of procrastination or believing that you’ll have more dispensable income next week, month, or year and that way you’ll address your problems then. If life has taught me anything it’s that as your income rises, your expenses follow suit at least an equal rate. Tomorrow never comes and that debt is still there or you still have started a retirement account. Get hold of your finances today!
Once you have made the wise decision to take hold of your finances, you must determine where you are in terms of your finances. Are you just starting out, in debt, just bought a house, about to have a child, or somewhere in between and just want a more secure future? The answer to this question will help you determine what steps to take. If you are in debt, your first step is likely to place as much available cash as possible against the principle which will accomplish tow things for you: reduce the long term interest you’ll pay and once the total debt is paid it will free up that cash for other debt or hopefully other goals.
Next, it’s important to know where you want to go: do you want to buy a house, a vacation home, a new car, save for retirement, your child’s college fund, your daughter’s wedding, or any other infinite financial goals one might have. Be specific about your goal, how much money do you need and when? Once you have specific information in mind, visit a savings goal calculator such as this one at bankrate.com: http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/savings-goal-calculator-tool.aspx?ec_id=m1108533. This will tell you how much you need to save each month to reach your goal.
This is a broad topic, too much so to touch on every possibility as an introduction to personal finance however if you have a question feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Jeremy R Woods