Financial Planning

Planning for your financial future is important, no matter what stage of life you are in.

 

While financial planning involves thinking about retirement, investments and assets, it also involvessimple budgeting and eliminating debt. Step by step, following a plan can be the key to meeting your financial goals, whether they are saving for your first house or saving for retirement.

Understanding the basics of financial planning is just as important as understanding investment options. Setting goals for your future and having a plan set in place to make those goals a reality means really grasping the basics, even if that means seeking professional advice. The financial considerations that need to be made vary by family, as no two financial situations are the same. Read on to learn how to start a plan of your own and how you can incorporate investments into that plan.

Starting a Financial Plan

Managing your money is the first and most important step in achieving financial goals. A personal or family financial plan is the greatest money management tool at your disposal. Financial planning is done when you plan and evaluate your current and projected finances in order to reach a certain situation or goal. Creating a basic financial plan can help you get your finances where you want them to be, regardless of whether or not you have any assets or investment accounts.

Financial plans can be created in one of two ways, through a do-it-yourself method or through a financial planner. If you choose to create one on your own, then there are several steps to take and considerations to make depending on your financial situation and goals. There are also computer software and app programs that can help make creating a plan easier.

While you can create a financial plan on your own, using a professional financial planner is helpful for understanding aspects of your finances that may not have been apparent to you previously. Choosing to create a financial plan through a certified planner offers you the benefit of expert advice, which in turn lowers the risk of any errors. Discussing your finances honestly with your planner is crucial, as he or she needs to gain a full understanding of your assets and finances before providing advice on what the best course of action is for you.

Investments

For most people, investments make up a major part of their financial plan. While investing sounds like something only the wealthiest do, it is something most take part of at some point during their adult lives. By definition, an investment is any purchase that is made and expected to produce income or profit. Although investing may seem too difficult and unaffordable for the average American, there are many kinds of investments anyone can make to create a better financial future for themselves and their family.

Investing is important for everyone, especially those who are planning and saving for retirement. While keeping money in a savings account in the bank may earn some interest, most account holders will not see a large enough return on their money. With the right investments, it is possible to increase savings to a sizeable amount. Making investments such as buying a house or contributing to a 401(k) are relatively low-risk ways to prepare for retirement or future financial goals. Through the creation of a financial plan or working with a financial planner, it can become clearer which kind of investments are best for an individual’s financial situation.

There are several different kinds of investments, but all fall under the following three basic categories:

  • Ownership investments
  • Lending investments
  • Cash equivalent investments

Ownership investments include owning stock in a company or buying precious metals like gold. These investments grow in value over time and can be sold by the owner for a profit. Lending investments offer investors growth through interest earned. An example of lending investments is bonds. The last kind of investment is cash equivalent investments, which include money market funds. These funds offer a small return, but the risks involved are also small and accounts are more liquid than other types of investment accounts.

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency, while once looked upon as temporary, has become a popular investment alternative. Cryptocurrency is a kind of digital currency that is held in electronic accounts on computers and servers. This currency is created through advanced computer programs that solve mathematical problems, which encrypt financial transaction data.

 

The most well-known type of cryptocurrency on the market is Bitcoin, but there are several other forms on the market as well. Bitcoin, like most other cryptocurrencies, is independent of international governments and financial institutions. While the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency market may be volatile at times, these markets have seen significant growth in recent years, and may be a great investment option.

Financial Planning Resources

Planning for the future is important, especially when it comes to finances. Financial planning can involve quite a bit of work and it can cause some confusion if you are inexperienced. However, there are plenty of financial planning resources available to help you get your future on track. Finding the right resource or resources is easy, and it can be the key to a successful financial life.

The most useful resource when it comes to financial planning is a certified planner. While it may be costly to hire a financial planner, it is the best way to get a full view of your finances and the options you have. Although a planner is not necessary for every circumstance, hiring a planner is best when a larger amount of money or assets are involved.

In most cases, taking a do-it-yourself approach is enough to get started on a financial plan. If your financial life is in its beginning stages or if there are some basic improvements that need to be made, then using resources found online can help you start planning. Using printable worksheets found online is a great first step in assessing your own finances and goals for the future. Online financial calculators are also a great tool to use in conjunction with worksheets, as they can give you a more accurate calculation of accounts, such as student loans and credit cards.

Once you have your financial situation assessed, the next step will probably be creating a budget. Making a budget on your own can seem a little daunting, but there are apps and computer software programs that help make that process smoother. You can use programs like Google Sheets or Excel to keep track of your own budget, or you can purchase budget specific programs like You Need A Budget (YNAB), which guide you through the budgeting process.

 

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