Creating the ultimate guide to personal finance is a lofty aspiration because there are so many aspects involved in the subject. While almost everyone can agree that having a healthy financial status is the sign of prosperity, few can agree on how to get there. This guide is designed to walk anyone with an income through the major components of personal finance. From budgets to savings to investments, this article will provide a brief guide to handling your own personal finances. Good news is that understanding personal finance can be greatly applied to startups as well.

The Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance

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In this article, your will learn about personal finance options starting from 1) budgeting and 2) saving, and going to 3) investing, 4) retirement, and 5) debt.

BUDGETING

Budgeting is one of the true keys to achieving healthy finances. A successful budget will allow you to spend and save your money without taking on an unnecessary or unhealthy debt. Budgeting is a fine art. It requires pragmatism, commitment and flexibility. There are three important facets of budgeting. The first is to create a realistic and flexible budget. The second facet requires that you commit to the budget. The third aspect requires you to evaluate the budget and its efficacy regularly.

Create a realistic personal budget

  • In order to begin to create a realistic budget, you need to clearly define your goals. These goals should be as concise as possible. For example, if you want to become a homeowner, you need be clear about the kind of home you want to buy, the amount of money you want to spend and when you want to purchase your home. Without these precise numbers, it is hard to both create and stick to a budget.
  • You also need to identify your main source of income. For those on a simple salary, this can be relatively straightforward. However, if you have multiple sources of income like a salary, real estate income or investment income, things can become a bit more difficult. Despite this difficulty, it is important to nail down a realistic monthly and yearly income to the best of your ability.
  • To understand where your money goes, you need to pay close attention to what you currently spend your money on. If you notice that you seem to be hemorrhaging money but cannot figure out why, you will need to do a sharp analysis of your finances. A great trick for this is to collect a receipt from every single purchase you make and evaluate them after a week. You may be surprised at how much money you spend on unnecessary items. After you have established where your money currently goes, you can decide where you would like your money to go.
  • Budgets should be created for both long-term goals and short-term goals. The long-term goal will help you achieve general financial health. The short-term goals are essential for helping ensure you remain fiscally flexible. Life is unpredictable and sometimes extra expenses must be taken care of. If you deviate from a short-term goal, you can still ensure that you have the flexibility you need to stay on track for the long-term budget.

Stick to the budget

Once you have set up a realistic budget, it is important to stick to it. It is important not to deviate from the established budget unless it is urgent. Necessary car repairs, hospital bills and other emergencies are examples of times when it is appropriate to deviate from the plan. Flash airline sales are an inappropriate excuse to spend extra money. If you know you are an impulse buyer, you may want to consider allocating yourself space in the budget for these purchases.

Revaluate your budget regularly

Any plan you make should be evaluated regularly. More often than not, you will find ways that you can improve the budget while still accommodating your expenses. In matters of personal finance, there is always room for improvement.

SAVING

The jury is still out regarding the amount of money you should save annually. Some specialists suggest that you save 10% of your monthly income while others suggest that you save 20-30% of this money. It is good to establish the set amount of money that you would like to save each month. However, it is important that number is feasible for your personal finances. If you are new to saving, a good rule of thumb is to save what you can in order to establish good saving habits.

Define short-, mid- and long-term goal(s) to start saving for

Any and all financial considerations will require you to set concrete goals. Saving requires a different set of goals than budgeting. You will need to set short-, mid- and long-term goals. A short-term goal might include a new mobile phone or articles of clothing. Mid-term goals will include items that are considered luxury items that you would like to purchase in the near future. Examples of a mid-term goal would include vacations, expensive electronics or new furniture. A long-term savings goal will often be a huge sum of money that can only be truly achieved with compounded interest or investments. These goals may include retirement funds and children’s education funds.

Choose a type of savings account

Regular Savings Account

A basic savings account is a very easy saving option. They are available at most banks. Many do not require fees or a minimum deposit. However, these accounts offer very little return. This is a great account to use if you are saving for a short-term goal. It is also a good option if you are putting money away for an emergency and want to be able to access it quickly.

Certificate of Deposit

If you are happy to save for a mid-term or long-term goal, you may want to consider a Certificate of Deposit or a CD. A CD is another product offered by many banks and credit unions. They are easy to use and they come with very little risk. Unlike a regular savings account, you will not be able to access your money without paying a penalty. This keeps savings safe for a few years. There are several types of CDs. The three listed here are some of the most common ones.

A traditional CD is one of the most common types of CD. You are awarded an account with a fixed interest rate for a certain term. When the time is up, you may either withdraw the money or move it into another account.

A callable CD often offers higher interest rates than other accounts. It is known as a callable CD because the bank is able to recall it after an agreed amount of time. They then return your deposit plus any interest. Banks like these accounts because it means they can back out of high interest accounts should interest rates take a tumble.

A global CD is tied to global currency rates. Depending on the stability of the world economy, this is a great option. However, if you are considering a CD during a period when the European currency is feared to be collapsing, you may want to consider a different option.

Money Market Account

A money market account is a savings option that offers a higher interest rate than traditional savings accounts. These accounts limit your access to the money. However, they often require a higher starting balance than other accounts. You can set up a money market account at most banks.

Online Savings Account

An online savings account is a great option for those familiar with Internet banking. Because online banks do not have the same overhead costs as traditional banks, they are often able to offer higher interest rates.

Interest matters – but what is it?

Interest is a fee that is assessed when money is borrowed. You can either pay interest or you can earn interest. In the case of savings accounts, the bank is borrowing your money to make investments. Because of this, they are entitled to pay you interest.

Compound interest is the magic key to making a savings account work. It is essential to get a great rate and continue to add savings to the account over time to take advantage of interest. You also want to find a rate that is compounded often. If the interest is compounded weekly, you will make more money than if it is compounded annually.

High interest accounts almost always require a maintenance fee. It is important that you are saving enough money and earning enough interest to cover the maintenance fee and still profit.

INVESTING

Investments have become an uncomfortable concept since the 2008 market crash. The crash was followed by Hollywood blockbusters about 1980s Wall Street and the result was that investing felt more out of reach than ever. While investments are not a simple concept, they are not as difficult as they may seem. Investments are a great way to build your savings portfolio. You can make safe investments for reasonable returns or you can take part in riskier investments in hopes of striking gold. There are several types of investments and the amount of risk you take is up to you.

Bonds

Bonds are a loan. When you purchase a bond, you are loaning your money to a bank, a government or a company. In return, the borrower repays you the principle sum and interest payments. Bonds are great for those who want a safe investment

There are a variety of bonds available on the market. Many of them are government bonds issued by the federal government or the treasury. You can also purchase savings bonds, agency bonds, municipal bonds and corporate bonds. Each bond offers different risks and different benefits.

A bond’s duration is the measurement used to describe how sensitive the bond is to fluctuating interest rates.

Talking about a coupon is just another way to talk about the interest rate that the bond pays.

Stocks

When you purchase a company’s stock, you are purchasing partial ownership in the company. The goal of purchasing stocks is to see the value of the investment rise as the company’s share price rises. Capital growth, dividends and interest are the primary reasons people invest in stocks.

Unless you have a large amount of capital and a wealth of experience in the market, you will need a stock broker to buy and sell your stocks. You will automatically pay that broker a commission. The commission rate will vary depending upon the individual brokerage firm.

Mutual Funds

A mutual fund is an account that brings together the assets of several investors and then invests that money on their behalf. The company that issues the fund will then manage the investment on behalf of the account holders. The goal of these funds is to allow people to make investments without having to make individual purchases and trades.

A mutual fund allows people to participate in the stock market even if they only have $1,000 to invest.

Like any investment, mutual funds have costs associated with them. Because the account is managed, investors will pay a fee to the organization that issued the account. You may also be required to pay a 2% redemption fee.

Investing with robo-advisors

A robo-advisor is a new type of investment service that aims to make investing easy and inexpensive. Usually, you will set up an account and deposit money. You will suggest the kind of investments you would like to make and computer software manages your money for you.

It is important to shop around for robo-advisors. Each company will offer different services and these services will be associated with different costs.

The advantage of a robo-advisor is that it is easy to use and can be continuously monitored. The option also allows you to invest as much or as little money as you like.

RETIREMENT

Retirement planning is often not given its fair share of attention by those under 40 years old. Retirement may seem far away but it is never too early to begin saving. Even if you can only contribute small amounts to retirement plans, you will soon reap the benefits of compound interest.

  • 401(k): A 401(k) is a retirement plan that is often sponsored by employers. A great employer will offer matching contributions to the 401(k). There are several benefits to this type of retirement account. It is a great way to save for retirement automatically and it also includes several tax incentives. You can withdraw money from this plan but you will pay significant penalties.
  • IRA: An IRA is an individual retirement account. These accounts offer tax incentives like tax deferment. You have a wide choice of IRAs depending on your employment situation. You can choose to open a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. If you are self-employed, you can choose a SEP IRA. You can set up an IRA account through a bank, a brokerage firm or even a robo-investor.

DEBT

Debt is a scary word for many people. However, having the right debt can be healthy and good for your credit. The key to managing debt is to only take on necessary debts like mortgages and student loans. When paying debt back, you should work to prioritize debt. You should always pay back high interest debt immediately.

  • Mortgage: As long as you have taken out a mortgage that is appropriate to your level of income, a mortgage is a healthy debt to have. You can choose to pay off your mortgage early to avoid extra interest and gain financial freedom. You can also choose to pay it over the agreed term and take advantage of tax benefits. How you tackle your mortgage should be in line with your personal financial goals.
  • Credit Card Debt: If you have significant credit card debt with high interest rates, you may want to consider consolidating your debt through a bank. When you do this, you can pay off your debt sooner and at a lower interest rate. It is better to make larger payments than to pay more money over a longer period of time.
  • Student Loans: Student loans can be crippling for young people regardless of their income. The best way to deal with student loans is to begin making small payments on them early. This will cut down the massive amount of interest that is leveraged to them. It is also important to work with the lender to ensure you are making a fair payment on the loan.

CONCLUSION

Creating a healthy relationship with money takes dedication, consistency and work. Most importantly, it takes a lot of flexibility. You may have to be flexible about the things that you think you need as well as your goals. Ultimately, you have to be realistic about the amount of money you earn and the amount of money you can spend. When you are realistic and flexible, you can create a financial plan that will help you live your life to the fullest during your working years and in retirement.

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