Excel Formula For Calculating Current Age From Date Of Birth Quick Guide to Starting Your Personal Financial Plan – Assessing Your Financial Health

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Quick Guide to Starting Your Personal Financial Plan – Assessing Your Financial Health

Unfortunately, if you’re not lucky enough to have a parent or mentor to teach you how to make smart choices with your money, you’re left to learn on your own. However, learning the basics of financial planning is not difficult, and you can easily manage your own basic plan with a few hours of research and a few online trades per year. This article will assess your financial health as the first step in developing your personal financial plan.

The first step in assessing your financial health is to calculate your total net worth. Gather all your account details (checking, savings, investments, 401k, IRAs, etc.) and all your current bills/debts (credit cards, student loans, car loans, etc.). Then do some basic math. Add up all your assets (except your home) and then subtract all your debts/liabilities (except your home mortgage). I advise people not to include their home unless they definitely plan to sell it as part of their financial plan, although this is a matter of personal preference (remember to include your mortgage as a loan if you include your home equity as an asset). . This number is your current net worth, and it will be the starting point of your financial journey.

Now, find out where your money is going. If you’re like most people, you spend less than you earn. Deficit spending may work for the government, but the number one rule for you to make responsible choices with your money is to spend less than you earn. Pull out your bank statements, credit card statements, phone bills, etc. and write down how much you spend each month. Quicken and Mint both offer good budgeting software, or you can do it by hand in Excel or on notebook paper. Don’t forget to include rent/mortgage, car payments, eating out, vet bills, gas, vacations/birthdays/annual gifts (on average per month), etc. Another technique is to religiously track every dollar you spend. Spend a month or two. This step is very difficult, but once you do it and set up your budget, you will only need to review and make small changes once a year. Now compare your monthly expenses with your monthly take home pay. If the number is positive, congratulations. If it’s negative, you have some work to do. In any case, if you look closely at where your money is going you can almost always find areas where you can make a return. Do you really need an ultra fast internet connection or will a slower plan work? Do you really need a $5 Super Caramel Mocha Frappuccino caffeine bomb every morning? do you smoke At over $4 a pack, it’s a great way to help your budget and your health.

Next, request a copy of your credit report. Visit https://www.annualcreditreport.com to request a free copy of your report. This is the only site authorized by the government to fill your free credit report requests, all other sites are imposters and usually try to sell you expensive credit monitoring as part of a free report. You can make one request from each credit agency every 12 months, so a good idea is to make a request every 4 months from a different agency, that way you get a picture of your credit throughout the year. Review your report for errors (they often are) and if you find any, request that they be fixed. You can also include explanatory information for offending marks in your report. When first starting out, and every few years or so going forward, it’s a good idea to pay for your credit score as well (it’s not included in your free report). If you go directly to a credit agency (Experian, Transunion, Equifax) you can usually get it for less than $10. If you have less than stellar credit, a good plan going forward is to put all your bills on autopay (many banks offer this), so you don’t have to worry about whether you forgot to pay something last month.

While not necessary, it’s also helpful to calculate your debt-to-income ratio. Add up all of your consumer debt (car loans, credit card balances, store credit card balances, basically anything you bought on credit that you don’t expect to increase in value) and divide it after your annual tax income. If the result is more than about 15%, you are entering the danger zone and should consider going all cash for your purchases until you pay down your balance.

Now, write down all these numbers and keep them in a safe place. You’ll refer to them as you develop your financial plan, and you’ll use them to track your progress as the years go by.

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