How to Define Personal Finance
In the modern world, personal finance is more important than ever. A person’s entire life revolves around the decisions they make about their money. The media would have one believe that big banks are what make the economy function or fail, but the truth is that individuals should be much more concerned about what they can control, namely their personal finances.
For many people, personal finance simply means keeping their checkbook balanced and having enough money in the account to pay the monthly bills. This is a great start, but only a start. Other important decisions affect a person’s financial well-being. Everyone eventually have to rely on the decisions they made in the past to provide them with suitable income in their golden years. Decisions like this are just as important as keeping the checkbook organized.
The old-fashioned bank is the financial institution most likely to play the greatest role in a person’s daily personal finance strategy. Banks offer a variety of ways to help one manage their money. Most people need only concern themselves with four main types of financial accounts. The first two account types, checking and savings, shouldn’t be anything new to the average person living in the modern world. Checking accounts offer the most convenience and easiest access to your money.
Savings account also allow you access, but are designed with long term savings in mind. These accounts pay interest, but it’s usually very low and shouldn’t be viewed as an investment. Money market accounts are similar to savings accounts but have a few restrictions. In return for a higher interest rate, banks usually require a minimum deposit to open one of these accounts and the number of transactions that can be made on the account per month is limited. Though not actually an account, certificates of deposit (CDs) offer some of the best returns on one’s money. The longer one invests the money in the CD, the greater the return on one’s capital.
Before knowing the best account type or types to use in a personal finance strategy, a person first must analyze his or her own financial situation. It is important to consider one’s sources of income as well as one’s personal liabilities such as mortgage, car payment, credit card bills, daily living expenses, etc. Once all this information is gathered, a plan can be formulated. If one discovers a budget surplus, this money can be invested in money market or CDs. However, if the bills are barely being paid, it makes no sense to put money into a savings account just to have to remove it the following month.
The goal of all this information is not only to stay out of the red in your personal finances, but to also accrue a sizable savings surplus. By examining one’s daily spending habits, extraneous expenses can be removed and more money can be saved. The savings can then be put into money market or CD accounts and earn interest. The old saying that a penny saved is a penny earned is somewhat misleading. A penny saved and invested is can actually become several pennies if left alone over a period of time.
People who are really serious about getting their personal finance plan in order can take advantage of the services of a financial advisor who can help them make a long term plan. Government tax rules can boggle the mind and professionals dedicate their lives to staying knowledgeable about these rules. Professional advice along with personal discipline can lead to a life of financial security.