Few topics have the sort of impact on the lives of individuals and their families as that of personal finance. Education is essential if you wish to make the right financial moves to ensure a secure future. By using the tips contained in the article that follows, you can prepare yourself to take the necessary next steps.
Financing real estate is not the easiest task. The lender considers several factors. One of these factors is the debt-to-income ratio, which is the percentage of your gross monthly income that you spend on paying your debts. This includes everything from housing to car payments. It is very important not to make larger purchases before buying a home because that significantly ruins the debt-to-income ratio.
Even in a world of online bank accounts, you should still be balancing your checkbook. It is so easy for things to get lost, or to not really know how much you have spent in any one month. Use your online checking information as a tool to sit down once a month and add up all your debits and credits the old fashioned way. You can catch errors and mistakes that are in your favor, as well as protect yourself from fraudulent charges and identity theft.
Finance experts say it all the time. Pay yourself first. You should have at least 3 months worth of living expenses in an emergency savings account. From each paycheck you should have a specified amount of money that goes directly to this account before you ever even see it.
When it comes to maintaining your financial health, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is establish an emergency fund. Having an emergency fund will help you avoid sliding into debt in the event you or your spouse loses your job, needs medical care or has to face an unexpected crisis. Setting up an emergency fund is not hard to do, but requires some discipline. Figure out what your monthly expenses are and set a goal to save 6-8 months of funds in an account you can easily access if needed. Plan to save a full 12 months of funds if you are self-employed.
Make note of free financial services whenever they are mentioned. Banks often tell their customers about free services they offer at the most inopportune times. The wise customer does not let these opportunities slip away. If a teller offers the customer free financial planning services when he or she is in a rush, for example, the customer can make note of the offer and come back to take advantage of it at a better time.
Bonds are a very stable and solid investment that you can make if you want to plan for the future. These forms of investments are purchased at a fraction of what they will be worth in the future. Invest in bonds if you want to earn a solid payback in the future upon maturity.
Pack your lunch for work! You can save so much money if you just plan ahead the night before and take the time to pack yourself something to eat instead of paying restaurant prices for lunch at work. You can splurge a few times a month and go out to eat with some coworkers!
“Reward” credit cards might not be a good deal. Unless you pay off your balance in full each month, the higher interest rates and fees on “reward” cards might offset the value of the rewards you earn. If you usually carry a balance, you’ll save money by using a low-interest card instead.
Use caution when considering a student loan. At least know what career you’ll pursue and how much you’ll make before accepting one. Defaulting would be very expensive. Think about how you will repay it. Unlike a car or home loan, you can’t sell off an asset when you realize that you have borrowed too much.
Personal finance is something that has been the source of great frustration and failure for many, especially in the mist of the challenging economic circumstances of recent years. Information is a key factor, if you want to take the reins of your own financial life. Apply the ideas in the preceding piece and you will begin to assume a greater degree of control over your own future.