Saturday, 25 February 2012

Personal finance action-steps to build a solid financial foundation

Here are personal finance action-steps formulated to help individuals and families build a solid financial foundation. Savings and investments are very important but in the 2011 economy they will be most SUSTAINABLE when a solid present-day foundation has been attended to first. You'll know you have completed the "foundation" step once you have more money coming in to your household than going out for at least four consecutive months!
  1. Write down your short-term, mid-term, and long-term financial goals and put them somewhere to easily refer back to them.
  2. Review your goals (at least) on a weekly basis.
  3. Figure out your exact financial status today. How much money a) comes in and b) goes out each month. Create a line-item and categorized itemization of money in and out. Don't forget things like eating out and entertainment.
  4. Track your expenses and out-of-pocket spending precisely for at least one month. Save all receipts and record out-of-pocket information daily. Also determine the exact amount of money (or average) that comes in each month.
  5. Do you have more money going out than coming in? If so, exactly how much?
  6. Use your list of current itemized expenses to create an action-plan regarding how and by when you will lower or eliminate line-items that exceed the amount of money currently coming in to your household. This may mean creative downsizing.
  7. Create an action-plan about how and by when you will increase money coming in to your household. As debt becomes reduced or eliminated, this action step becomes the most important one in order to stay ahead of the cost-of-living debt curve for the long-term.
  8. As you focus on ways to increase cash flow, perhaps consider an independent trade or service that people will always need and that best suits you. For example, car mechanics, computer techs, hair stylists, barbers, clean-water suppliers, pet care-givers, delivery-service providers etc.
  9. Make debt-elimination a high-priority; the final goal being to consistently live within your means and pay as you go.
  10. Once credit-card debt is paid off, get rid of all but one credit card because credit access is actually an instant-gratification state-of-mind.
  11. Do NOT keep your one remaining credit card in your wallet. Leave it frozen in a bowel of water in your freezer. This tactic builds time into the otherwise instant-gratification decision-making mindset of a credit card in your wallet.
  12. You might even want to reallocate existing assets towards building your "more money in than going out" household-budget foundation more quickly. Since money (as debt) is worth the most today than it will be tomorrow, it's best to put it to work today! A stable present situation will increase your well-being. Increased well-being empowers a healthy decision-making process
  13. Use cash first and foremost. Most people will pay more attention to what they spend when it comes straight out of their wallet.
  14. Stop shopping for entertainment. Shop purposefully using coupons, during sales and buy bulk whenever possible. Generally shop recycled including for cars.
  15. Include your children in the how and why of your decision-making process (should you accept this mission)and invite their imitation of your thinking and efforts.
  16. If you have savings and/or investments to preserve, keep some of YOUR money entirely out of the reach of the banking-services industry. They consider their own interests before they consider yours! More and more people are moving their bank capital into hard (tangible) assets.
  17. Specifically per 16 above, consider anything you have in savings, retirement funds or the stock market. (Remember the stock-market 2008 and FYI: The U.S. government is currently floating the idea of nationalizing 401(k)'s and IRA's given their nearly 14-trillion-dollar deficit. In other words, individuals would lose control over their account and the government instead would ration annuity-type payments.)

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