Modern finances can be overwhelming. Many people are intimidated by basic tasks such as creating a budget or balancing a checkbook; not to mention the complexities of retirement, taxes, investing, insurance, or making big purchases that just add to the confusion.
This guide provides you with resources to help you sort through the confusion and gain control over your personal finances.
It’s common for 18-year-olds to accept pre-approved credit card offers, and for students to fully finance their college education with loans. As a result, many people from their mid-20’s through their 40’s experience what feels like insurmountable financial challenges.
Below are resources full of time-honored strategies that will help you meet financial challenges head on and start taking charge over your financial future.
Chapter 1: General Principles
The principles discussed in the resources below lay the groundwork for thinking about personal finance. The Khan Academy videos on interest and debt are especially educational, and will provide a new perspective about credit. The other resources include online articles from respected financial sources. Finally, the book “I Will Teach You to be Rich” breaks down wealth accumulation into basic principles that can maximize wealth accumulation potential. The majority of the author’s work is freely available on the website linked below.
Chapter 2: Budgeting
The most common principle by far is the necessity for creating a budget. Creating and adhering to budgets can seem constraining, but the idea is that the knowledge, comfort, and security provided by a budget are far more liberating than not having a budget at all. Below are several fantastic articles that provide advice on budget making as well as insight into the benefits a budget can yield.
Chapter 3: Investing
Investing is intimidating to many, and for good reason. The stock market seems to be an extremely dangerous and volatile place to risk hard earned money. The resources below are intended to educating the average person about the stock market and how to invest defensively, for long term profit. It’s a dangerous way to try to get rich quick, but by understanding the safer, more established long term ways of investing, you can reap huge benefits over the course of your career, and be very well established financially when approaching retirement.
Chapter 4: Retirement
Retirement is much more complex than simply dumping some money into a 401k over the course of your career. There are a wide range of things to consider when preparing for retirement, and how you prepare for retirement will be determined by the lifestyle you wish to have if and when you retire. Below are some resources of which everybody should be aware, they will help with things like creating a retirement blueprint, and understanding social security. There is also a great resource from Forbes on how to catch up on retirement plans.
Chapter 5: Taxes
Every year people pay taxes. However, paying taxes every year, doesn’t mean people aren’t intimidated by them. The good news is that there are many resources available to tax paying Americans. Depending on how complex your finances are, you may benefit from a program like TurboTax, or you might find it better to hire a tax preparer or an accountant. Below are resources that will help you understand taxes, and determine which options for preparing and paying taxes are right for you.
Chapter 6: Insurance
There is insurance for just about everything and it can be confusing. Health insurance, life insurance, property insurance, casualty insurance, car insurance, supplemental health insurance and many more. Being over insured can be a financial burden, but being under insured is a big financial risk. This chapter features articles to help you evaluate your risks, and understand the role of insurance as risk management.
Chapter 7: Big Purchases
Many people are intimidated by major purchases such as cars, homes, or education. This is something which companies take advantage of, often using people’s ignorance to maximize their profit. With a little education however, you can be an informed purchaser of housing, cars, or education, getting the most for your money and minimize debt and risk. This chapter features educational resources designed to help people understand how and when to make major life purchases.
Chapter 8: Financial Security
One hears stories almost daily of people’s lives and livelihoods being jeopardized by unforeseen financial expenses. Whether a freak accident, identity theft, maintenance expenses, or any number of other expensive occurrences, following some basic principles of financial security and preparedness is key to absorbing the unfortunate mishaps one encounters in life. In this chapter you will find articles that advocate the best practices for achieving financial security.
Chapter 9: Banking & Accounting
The resources in this chapter focus on banking and accounting, and particularly using all the tools banks offer to help you keep track of your finances. You will also find articles here about whether or not you should consider engaging the services of a financial planner. Financial planners act as consultants. They are professionals devoted to helping people achieve financial success.
Chapter 10: Tools
There are a wide range of free financial tools to help make basic personal financial tasks more streamlined. Budgeting tools for people in a variety of circumstances, net worth calculators retirement planning calculators, and retirement plan evaluation websites are all available to help you plan for a financially successful present and future.