Financial planning is a necessary thing for all people. Many people have a hard time knowing where to start, and having the right financial planning tools at your disposal is helpful. Here are some great financial planning tools to help you reach your financial goals.
The first financial planning tool is the most important. That is a good, workable budget. You cannot reach your financial goals if you do not have a plan to get there. A budget will help you to allocate your funds in such a way that will satisfy your debts and help you plan for the future.
The next weapon in your arsenal of financial planning tools is a savings account. Although you should have other investments, a savings account is a place to park your liquid cash so that you have easy access and are earning some interest at the same time. Check with your bank to find out what different levels of savings accounts are offered. Many are on a tiered scale, meaning that the more money you have in them, the more interest you earn. You may need to upgrade your account from time to time though.
Third, check your credit report. Many web sites offer you a “for fee” credit report, but you should also know that you are guaranteed a free credit report from the three major credit bureaus once a year from the government web site annualcreditreport.com. If you feel you need to check it more often, then a fee-based credit report service may be the way to go.
The next thing to manage is your debt. Although this can be daunting, it’s a necessary part of establishing financial security. A few financial planning tools can help make this easier for you. For most people, credit cards are a necessity today to at least some extent. However, for smartest use, you should carry only one or two, pay off the balance every month, and use the credit card companies’ competitiveness to get such perks as no annual fee. If for some reason you must carry a balance, pay it off as soon as possible. You should never use your credit card to help you live beyond your means. Only use your credit card to make shopping convenient and provide such things as buyer protection, but treat the purchases you make with your credit card just as you would those with cash. Many people who carry credit cards but who pay off balances each month make note of and “deduct” money for credit card purchases from checking accounts each month as they go, so that they don’t spend cash on hand that’s meant to go toward credit card payments at the end of the month. Then, at the end of the month, they pay the credit bill, but the credit card balance has already been deducted from checking throughout the month, so they are essentially writing one check for the total of their purchases throughout the month.
Fifth, one of your most major bills is probably your rent or your mortgage. Of the two, a mortgage payment usually better for you, since you can usually deduct interest you pay on your mortgage from your taxes. When interest rates drop or some other financial situation arises where refinancing would be a good option for you, make sure you check into this and refinance if possible, in order to lower your mortgage payments. Usually, the most prudent way to handle a refinancing is to roll your refinance savings into your mortgage, so that you save on the mortgage itself rather than taking the cash out to spend on something else. This will save you up to several years on mortgage payments, depending on the length of your loan.
One of the greatest financial planning tools for anyone is to have a good retirement plan. If you are working, you should be contributing to your employer’s 401K plan. You should have a diversified plan that will allow you to save enough for retirement while still allowing you to meet your current obligations. The earlier you begin, the harder your money will work for you.
A few good financial planning tools can help you manage your money wisely. Make sure to do your homework and take advantage of all the resources available to you. There are many financial planning tools out there for free or at nominal cost on the Internet. In addition, your financial institution also has financial planning tools that you can use. If you use these tools wisely, you’ll get the most out of your money.