10 Personal Finance Basics

What are the big things you are going to need to buy in the next few years? A car? A house? Financial goals are not as hard to establish as you may think, and they are the only realistic way to work toward the things you really need in life.

1. Identify Reasonable Goals

Financial stability means different things to different people. Figure out what you want to do with your money that would make you feel the most comfortable in the long run. Make a list of the goals you want to accomplish in the next ten years, and then make a list of the average expenses of each goal.

2. Prioritize

Once you have your list of goals put together, look at each item and rank it in order of importance. For example, sending your son to college would probably rank higher than taking a cruise to Alaska. Rearrange the list so that the things you want the most are at the top.

3. Make the Tough Choices

Not all of your big financial goals are going to fit nicely together. You may have to sacrifice one in order to keep another. Remember that every dollar you spend on one item is a dollar you won’t have available to spend on something that might be more important to you in the long run.

4. Plan Ahead

Give yourself plenty of time to achieve your financial goals. Take advantage of savings accounts and investments that will help your money grow over time so that you will have more when you need it later.

5. Practical Considerations

Remember to include goals that will help keep you and your family financially secure. Think about creating an emergency fund for unexpected expenses. Begin to build tuition funds for young children. Create retirement savings that will take care of you in your older days.

6. Include everyone who is Directly Affected

If you are married, make sure that you discuss your financial goals with your spouse. Talk with your children about the financial goals that include them.

7. Begin Right Away

Getting your finances in order is like going on a diet. It’s really easy to say you’ll start next week or next month and then never get around to it. Once you choose to create a solid financial plan, put it in order and start using it as soon as possible.

8. Maintain Discipline

Daily spending is the hardest to control. Every time you think about making a big purchase, remember what your goals are. If the goals are really important to you, they will be enough to keep you from blowing your cash on something you don’t really need.

9. Give Yourself some Breathing Room

Budget in some walking around money so that you never feel too limited. It’s important to have a little flexibility to purchase less expensive items when you want them.

10. Make Changes as Time Passes

As you and your family get older, your financial situation and goals will change. Revisit your plan every three to five years and make changes so that it fits reality.