Personal Financial Management 101

Years ago, cartoonist Scott Adams of Dilbert fame published “Everything you need to know about financial planning.”  You can find it on the web, or call me & I’ll send you a copy.  It started with “Make a Will” and progressed through “Pay off your credit cards” and “Buy a house if you want to live in a house and you can afford it” to similar pithy advice on emergency and retirement savings.  At 128 words, it covers the real issues you need to focus on.  There are hundreds of thousands of books, websites, computer programs, and millions of people trying to advise you.  The cumulative effect is typically overload and shutdown, and going on with whatever you’ve been doing – which may be dysfunctional.

At 1TaxFinancial, I have a simple Financial Questionnaire that I often use with tax clients. Every year I try to move them one item or one section down the list.  Some of it can be done in a few minutes or hours, some will take work to change attitudes or behaviors, but if you focus on the essentials and take a lot of deep breaths, you can improve your financial management.

So, start with a will.  After all, you should decide who gets your stuff and your money when you die, not the state.  But more importantly, get a Health Care Power of Attorney, and discuss your wishes for medical intervention at the end of life with your family.  If you have an attorney prepare your will, that’s part of the package these days.  If not, the Ohio form is on the internet, or a librarian can help you find one because librarians do magic.

Then, simplify your financial life.  Make a list of all your bank & financial accounts, and consolidate them.  One bank and one brokerage is probably enough, and much easier to keep track of.  List all your debts – especially if that’s scary – with the payoff amounts, interest rates and minimum payment requirements.  And call 1TaxFinancial for a Record Retention Checklist to help you figure out what you can throw away and what you must keep.

If your spending isn’t under your conscious control, start a budgeting process by figuring out where the money’s going.  The obvious big items like rent or mortgage are probably not where your “leak” is.  Is it eating out, your cell phone plan, lattes, chocolate, cigarettes, or alcohol?  If it’s chocolate, I haven’t found a solution personally.  I may have suggestions for the others.  Call me at 794-1829!  I have resources and educational sessions available.

Let’s get together & see if I can help you reach your financial goals.  Available year-round, I want to be your go-to financial advisor in the neighborhood.  Fees are reasonable, based on time spent.  I don’t sell securities or insurance, but I can help you identify your goals and focus on a plan to meet them.