Get Back to Basics for Financial Success

Get Back to Basics for Financial Success

Dear readers, this week, I will be featuring my first collaboration with a guest author who strongly believes that the best thing you can do for yourself is to educate yourself regarding your finances.  As complicated as money matters may seem - getting down to the nitty gritty basics is always a good way to go. Before beginning to structure a portfolio and delve into the world of financial professionals arming yourself with knowledge and personal budgets is a great place to start. 

Enjoy and let me know in the comments what you think! 

Personal money management is an intimidating prospect for many consumers.  Not only does the subject illicit anxiety among those struggling to make ends meet, but managing money is not always straightforward, presenting difficulty for some casual planners to understand.

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What's more, money problems compound quickly, sometimes spiraling out of control, before financial flare-ups can be tamped.  Fortunately for struggling money managers, countless others have experienced similar challenges in the past, devising solution to help keep household finances on track.

Money matters grow complex as people age, adding mortgages, college concerns, and retirement planning to the financial landscape.  With so much to account for, getting back to basics reinforces your financial foundation, and sets the stage for meeting your financial goals.

Educate Yourself

Managing money is a career for professional financial planners and representatives familiar with wealth-building strategies.  Individuals without extensive training in the field, on the other hand, may not possess thorough understanding of sometimes complex financial issues.  If you feel as though your own financial literacy is suspect, consulting with professionals may be helpful, but it is also a good idea to seek knowledge independently.  Brokers and financial representatives have interests of their own, so their advice includes preferences for particular financial products, which they sell.

Civic organizations and community groups commonly sponsor adult education courses, highlighting helpful topics, such as personal finance.  Need help preparing a tax return, creating a household budget, or planning for retirement?  Chances are, free instruction and advice about such matters can be found in your locality.

Commit to Budgeting

One of the most important jobs undertaken by governors and city managers involves balancing budgets.  Just as governments rely on incoming tax revenue to pay for spending commitments, your personal household economy similarly balances income and expenses.  But states and municipalities are bound to the process, while many households operate without any sort of budgeting strategy.  Do you have a well-articulated budget in-place at home?  Fortunately, if you answered "no", like so many others; it is never too late to commit to budgeting and establish sensible spending guidelines.

Until you know where you stand, it is hard to craft a reasonable budget.  As a result, the process starts with record-keeping, logging your income and purchases for an extended period of time.  Accounting for major, fixed expenses is a wise first step when budgeting, harnessing costs like rent, mortgages, car payments, insurance, and other steady, long-term commitments.  These "immoveable" costs form the core of your budget, representing your basic monthly obligations.  In addition to fixed costs, an effective budget strives to manage discretionary purchases.  Among the hardest spending to control, every day ( impulse buys pose budgeting problems for some consumers lacking discipline.  As you track your spending for 30-90 days, you'll see patterns you can adjust, as needed, to reign-in ill-advised purchases. Staying true to your budget reinforces your financial health, helping you live within your means, without making substantial sacrifices.

Conduct a Periodic Financial Review

Personal money management accounts for day to day financial needs, but an effective strategy also recognizes long-term monetary implications.  Conducting periodic financial review is the best way to stay atop daily cash concerns, while still planning for the future.  Is home ownership a steadfast goal? Are your children approaching college age? What level of income do you require to live comfortably during retirement?  Answers to these and other questions help forge your best approach, enabling you to take appropriate, timely steps toward your financial goals.

Establishing a timeline creates a reference you can use to monitor progress meeting your financial goals. And keeping money sequestered from your regular household cash flow makes it easier to save. If you are putting aside money for a down payment on a house, for instance, a dedicated account reserves cash for the purpose, and provides an easy way to watch your money grow.  Although more frequent assessments may be helpful, conducting a minimum of one annual review is recommended by professional financial advisors.

As complicated as your personal finances may appear, at times, getting back to basics can simplify household money matters.  Periodic review, sound budgeting and financial literacy are three key aspects of successful money management.  Building on these basics helps make the most of your income today, while still paving the way for future prosperity and financial security.

Disclaimer: Please note that this week I have guest author's article. 

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