Understanding Your Current Personal Finance Situation

It is important: understanding your current personal finance situation is something that every person needs to do. By understanding what is going on with your personal finances you will be able to better control them. This can be one of the best ways to avoid money problems and debt.

Getting started is the hardest part. It can seem almost impossible to figure out where to begin when tackling finance issues. The best place to start is to simply look at expenses and income.

As the staples of a good budget, something every person should have, expenses and income are the main financial issues a person needs to understand. To begin you should gather all the relevant information. You may want to get bills, pay stubs and anything else that could help you list out your expenses and income.

The first thing to do is to track your daily expenses. This includes eating out, shopping and gasoline. You want to include these on your expenses list. You may need to gather receipts or actually keep a log for a week to be able to come up with an accurate account of your daily expenses.

Write out a list of expenses and then write out your list of income. At this point you should concern yourself with ensuring everything is listed. If your expenses or income vary then try to get a good average. You should have expenses separated into daily expenses and monthly expenses so you can see where your money is really going. Plus this will help when you go to budget your money.

Now you can begin to look at your debt. You should make out a list of your creditors. Your list should include the creditors contact information, the balance of your debt and the interest rate.

Now you should look at your personal finance accounts. This includes things like checking, savings and stocks. You want to list them all, including their current value or balance.

After going through your expenses, income, debt and personal finance accounts you should have a fairly good idea of where your personal finance matters stand. This should be a great platform for you to build upon to get your personal finances in good order. From this information you should be able to create a budget, get debt under control and best manage your personal finance accounts. You should be able to get the big picture about your personal finance situation and to understand it completely.

Financial Planning – The Key To Your Lifelong Success

Financial planning is not limited to asset allocation, mutual funds, and fixed-income investments – planning should include every aspect of your life.

Should you apply for that credit card? What type of car insurance should you buy? Should we save for our child’s college or put money in our IRA’s instead? These and many more questions are all part of financial planning.

The Larry Rule – A Little Known Financial Planning Fact

Larry Lindsey is not a famous name, even in financial circles. Currently, Mr. Lindsey is the chief economic advisor to the Bush Administration. In 1996, he was a Federal Reserve Board Governor – and he was denied for a Toys ‘R Us credit card!

To apply or not to apply, that is the planning question. Larry Lindsey, who had excellent credit and a high-income level, set out to demonstrate a flaw in credit scoring algorithms.

He simply applied for every retail store credit card he was offered, and in no time he had “too many inquiries.” Never mind the fact that he had millions in assets and nary a late payment in his 30-year credit history.

Knowing the Larry Rule is key to your financial planning. If you apply for retail store credit cards every time you are asked to do so, it will have negative effects on your credit.

You may then be asked to pay a higher interest rate on your mortgage or home equity loan, which could cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Sacrificing $10,000 for a 10 percent discount at Fashion Bug is not smart planning!

Auto Insurance and Financial Planning

Most people think of insurance as a legal necessity, but in reality, it is a financial product, and that’s important to keep in mind. Don’t ever buy insurance just because it’s legally required or in order to give yourself peace of mind. Insurance must serve a financial planning purpose!

You need to have a planning strategy in mind when you purchase auto insurance. The insurance company’s goal is to get you to pay more in premiums than you take out in claims – thus, they profit.

Your goal should to pay as little in premiums as possible in order to be adequately covered. You don’t want to have to use your auto insurance, but at the same time, you don’t want to be subsidizing the bad drivers who take out more in claims than they pay in.

In order to develop a financial planning strategy for auto insurance, it’s important that you become as educated as possible on the subject. Luckily, there are dozens of great sites on the internet that provide free information on the various types of auto insurance plans, and the particular laws of your state.

Everyone has to own some form of auto insurance, and thus it should be the cornerstone of any intelligent planning strategy.

The Financial Planning Dilemma – College vs. Retirement

American parents love their children and will do almost anything to ensure they have every possible advantage. As a result, many parents save for their children’s college instead of saving for their own retirement. This act of selflessness is usually not a good planning strategy.

In order to avoid this mistake, one must have a decent understanding of financial planning tax implications. Most college savings accounts are taxed on some level, whereas financial planning products for retirement purposes generally are not. What’s more, saving for your child’s college can prevent him or her from receiving the maximum financial aid available.

In other words, by foregoing your retirement in favor of your child’s college, you are actually subsidizing the children of less responsible parents – or smarter parents who chose to save for their own retirement, in light of these facts.

Financial Services Funds For A Down Market

Buying into a financial services fund may not seem like the best idea, especially with the amount of instability in financial markets right now. But many experts and investors are saying that now is the time to invest in these kinds of funds. With prices so low, they are only going to grow from here on out as the financial climate of the nation continues to be repaired.Financial services funds are a type of mutual fund that is specifically focused on banks, lending institutions and other financial services companies. Mutual funds allow investors to get into the stock market without spending a lot of money on one type of stock. With a mutual fund, you are technically pooling your money with other parties and buying stocks as a group. The manager of the mutual fund will choose the stocks or bonds that will offer the best return for the category.Financial services funds offer a better deal than investing in financial services directly. When you use a mutual fund such as this, you get a number of different advantages. Your money is diversified across many different companies and institutions. If one financial institution has trouble, you aren’t left up a creek without a paddle. The rest of your mutual fund portfolio should balance out the hits that the individual company is taking.Another benefit of investing in the financial sector with mutual funds is that you get professional management of your funds. The financial services fund’s manager has the experience necessary to be able to determine when to buy and when to sell specific stocks and bonds. Their experience will help your money grow.Pooling your money also allows you to have more cost efficiency. If you have $5,000 to invest, you may be able to buy shares in two to three companies. However, when you invest in a mutual fund in the financial services sector, your money will be spread out far more equally. Mutual funds can contain stocks and bonds for up to 100 different companies. When you invest this way, you’ll be able to spread your money over a wide variety of companies which can act as a measure of protection.In late 2008 and early 2009, financial services funds were fairing too well. Based on the trouble with banks and lending institutions due to the stock market slumps, it’s easy to see why many people would shy away from investing in this sector. However, history shows that after a financial crisis the financial services industries have been boosted up in the following years. After the early 1990s recession, financial services funds rose 30% in 1992 giving investors a nice profit. Purchasing a financial services fund, or any fund for that matter, is not something that should be gone into lightly. Before you place your money in a fund, you should research the history of the fund, the company that runs the fund and even the fund managers. Once you evaluate this information you can figure out if investing in financial services through mutual funds will be your best bet.