The Basics of Personal Finance

There are many components of finance that need to be considered if you are looking to manage your personal finances.

In addition to the various aspects of your finances, personal finance also includes the beliefs you and your family have about money, financial goals, investing and more. Managing your personal financial situation can be difficult if you do not understand that there is more involved than just spending and saving money. It is important that you think about each of the following aspects of personal finance:

  • Debt
  • Expenses
  • Income
  • Insurance
  • Investments
  • Savings
  • Taxes

The way that you and your family handles each of those aspects will make a big impact on your financial security and overall wealth. The choices you may in regard to each topic will also greatly affect your long and short term goals, either positively or negatively.

In addition, you must note that each of the aspects listed above is related to the others. If you alter one aspect it will change all of the other aspects as well. For instance, if you increase your income, you can reduce your debt and increase the amount you have in savings. Also, you will likely need to pay more in taxes, and your expenses may change as well.

If you do your research and become better educated on personal finance, you can learn to make adjustments that can provide great benefits to you and your family’s financial situation. By taking time to think about each aspect of your financial situation and come up with goals and strategies, you can become more financially secure and reap many benefits. You do not need to be a professional in a financial field in order to take control of your finances and make positive changes.

Understand Where Your Money is Going

One of the first steps that you should complete when you begin looking at your personal finance situation is managing your cash flow. It is essential that you understand what income you have coming into your household, what amount of money is leaving, and where that money is going. This is important because you cannot begin to make changes or reach goals if you are unaware of how much money you have after your expenses.

It is generally best to look at your cash flows on a monthly basis because most expenses, such as rent and utility payments, occur each month. However, you may find it beneficial to look at your yearly cash flow as well because it can also provide you with valuable insight.

To begin, create a detailed list of all income that is brought into the household throughout the month. This includes all paycheck wages, interest from bank accounts or investments, assistance payments that you receive and more. Ensure that only regular sources of income are considered. If the amounts vary from month to month, take the average.

Then, create a detailed list of all the expenses your family has. Make sure that you look at the real numbers instead of simply estimating, because most estimates are inaccurate. Consider your fixed expenses, which are costs that do not change much each month, such as rent, car payments and utility bills. Then, consider your variable expenses, which are costs that can change each month, such as the costs for groceries, gas, entertainment, going out to eat and more.

Make a Personalized Plan

After you have looked at your average monthly income and your average monthly expenses, you can gain a better understanding of your overall financial health. You will see whether you can decrease your expenses in order to have more money left over to put towards building up a savings account or paying off debt. Looking at your cash flow can help you to create a budget and then create a plan to reach your financial goals.

For instance, if you have a lot of credit card debt, you may find that paying down that debt is your biggest priority. Then, after you have paid down the debt, you can focus on your retirement savings or buying a home. Each individual and family has completely different needs and goals, so it is important to assess your goals so that you can make a plan that works for you.

Manage Your Financial Portfolio

Your financial portfolio is simply the collection of your individual or family’s investments. This may be comprised of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, trusts and more. You may also be involved in cryptocurrency or crowd funding opportunities as well. If you are currently investing, it is essential that you manage your portfolio and check on your investments regularly.

There are two popular strategies for portfolio management, and they include passive strategies and active strategies. Passive strategies typically include using less risky investments and leaving them to mature over a long period of time. These investments are typically more reliable but offer low returns. Active strategies involve riskier investment opportunities and more research and shifting of investments. This type of strategy typically yields higher returns. You may find it most beneficial to diversify and utilize both strategies on different investments.

Consider the Timing

One of the biggest influencing factors for personal finance is timing. You must consider the amount of time that you have to reach certain goals in order to decide on the strategy that you will use to reach them. For example, you may choose to participate in high-risk, high-reward investments to build up your retirement if you are young and not approaching retirement age for a while, so you have more time to recover from issues.

Ensure that you understand your personal financial situation and reassess your cash flow and goals regularly as things can change drastically over time. Also, consider getting involved in investing as soon as you can to maximize the potential of your portfolios. As long as you are well-educated on these basics of personal finances, you can successfully reach your financial goals.