Financial Planning Basics - Personal Finance 101

Financial planning covers a wide variety of money topics including budgeting, expenses, debt, saving, retirement and insurance among others. Understanding how each of these topics works together and affect each other is important for laying the groundwork for a solid financial foundation for you and your family.

1
Budgeting

Mixed race woman saving money in jars
Even if you haven’t created a detailed and written budget you continue to budget on a daily basis.. JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

At the very basic level of personal finance, you are dealing with a budget; you make money and then you spend that money. Even if you haven’t created a detailed and​ ​written budget you continue to budget on a daily basis. When you are faced with spending money on something, you think about it and realize that by spending that money, you will not be able to spend that same money on something else.

When you create a budget, you begin to see a clear picture of how much money you have, what you spend it on, and how much, if any is left over. When you can clearly see where your money is going, you can then budget appropriately so your money is going where it should.

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2
Cutting Expenses

After you have successfully created a budget, you'll have a much better understanding of where your money goes and where you can possibly trim expenses. For many people, this is as simple as cutting back on some of the little things that can add up. More

3
Getting Out of Debt

Even after creating a sound budget and cutting unnecessary expenses, you may still find yourself with lingering debt to get rid of. Using credit and taking on some debt itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when you can't keep up with the payments or borrow more than you can afford to pay back, you could be in trouble.

One of the most important steps in getting out of debt is to pay more than the minimum amount due each month. Even a modest credit card balance can take over a decade to pay off if you simply pay the minimum amount due. In addition, paying the minimum will end up costing you thousands of dollars in interest over that period.

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4
Saving for Retirement

With fewer companies offering full pension plans and the uncertainty of Social Security, it has become more important than ever to save and plan for your own retirement. Unfortunately, many people feel that they simply don’t have ​enough money left over each month to save.

Retirement savings needs to become a priority instead of an afterthought. The Internal Revenue Service has made saving for retirement even more attractive with special tax-advantaged accounts such as employer 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts and special retirement accounts for the self-employed. These accounts allow for tax deductions, credits and even tax-free earnings on some retirement savings.

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5
Insurance

You've created a budget, cut expenses, eliminated your credit card debt and, have started saving for retirement, so you are all set, right? While you've definitely come a long way, there is one more important aspect of your finances that you need to consider.

You've worked hard to build a solid financial footing for you and your family, so it needs to be protected. Accidents and disasters can and do happen and if you aren’t adequately insured it could leave you in financial ruin. You need insurance to protect your life, your ability to earn income, and to keep a roof over your head.

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