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Supercharge Your Financial Planning

Although many of us don't bother, it really doesn't hurt to have a financial plan. The future can be a lot less financially scary with one, and it can keep you from falling into problems you may not have, well, planned for. With helping your financial plan, advocates such as US Money Reserve are just viable solutions that can help you in the long run with your future.

A solid financial plan features many components that should be teamed up in order to create a financial strategy on which your economic future is based on. To make it simple, we'll use eight specific components, each of which must be looked at in order to ensure proper planning. Certainly there are other considerations you could easily build into this model, but for the sake of ease, we will mainly address the eight main areas, including: Budgeting, Saving, Insurance, Investing, Debt, Tax, Retirement and Estate.

Each of these eight components affect each other, so it is critical that you understand the core of each one.

Budgeting: Keeping Control Of Your Day To Day

Although many of us do it, the fact is, living on a paycheck to paycheck basis is literally one of the worst ways to live one's life. The problem: this lifestyle leaves no room for the unexpected. Meaning, if a medical emergency occurs, or a job is lost in the family, trouble ensues. Avoiding this requires a disciplined budget that is realistic in that it not only allows you to see where you are spending your money, but also "reins you in" when it comes to extravagant purchases. An important aspect of budgeting, obviously, is that you must keep some money for savings - which provides not only a cushion for emergencies, but also allows you to accomplish long and short term money goals.

Savings: The Key To Your Financial Future

Despite our hectic lifestyles, which often seem to require more money than we have, the importance of savings should not be underestimated. While many professionals suggest a 10-15% savings rate (of total gross or net pay), if you are new to the savings "scene", we would recommend at least starting yourself on a disciplined track by saving, say, 3%. You can always increase the number as you begin to get comfortable with the savings area.

Creating a goals sheet featuring not only short term goals (such as an emergency fund or piece of furniture), but long term goals as well, such as buying a new house or automobile. With savings, of course, discipline is key. If you find that the amount of savings you can commit is getting difficult to maintain, simply lower the amount. But DO NOT let your plan slide. Better to stay committed in smaller amounts than to begin to adopt an "I'll get to it next month"-savings attitude. The truth is: in most cases, you won't get back to it. So stay focused.

Insurance: An Important "Just In Case"

Insurance is important for all families. It can mean the difference between just a devastating situation such as a death or house fire, and a financially devastating situation. Which, obviously is an extra stress that no one should have to go through. Fortunately, insurance is available for almost everything you own, including your life, health care and dental care. And while you shouldn't go overboard with insurance, at least a basic level is important for the financial security of any family. If you currently don't have much in the way of insurance, you'll definitely want to analyze your family's financial situation and what you own, and obtain the best coverage, for the least premium. It just makes good sense.

Debt: Get Rid Of It!

Debt, for almost anybody, should be planned for in this manner: Get Out Of It!! It's really a simple plan. Certainly all debt is not a problem, and some things, like car loans or mortgages, are actually beneficial to providing you with the good things life has to offer. But credit can also be a huge trap. Many people begin to see credit as "part of their overall cash flow", in that they will spend extravagantly, and buy things they would never be able to purchase in cash. And, when you begin to have to buy normal household things such as groceries or gas for your car with credit, it's probably a good sign you should slow down. It's probably time you took a look at debt consolidation, or at least at tightening your budgeting plan. But don't worry, you are not alone: in 2002, the average credit card balance for Americans was over $7000.

Investing: Your Future Is In It

Creating an investment strategy is obviously an important point of anyone's life, but should only be addressed once your Budgeting, Saving, Insurance and Debt houses are in order. This just goes without saying, as those four components are simply the key to financial security. Once you have things like emergency funds set up, investing is an important component of financial planning. But, given the complexity of the subject, and the many avenues from which to approach it, we would say that with investing, it's best to consult with a financial planner. Each person's risk tolerance and goals are different, so having someone who can customize a plan for you is always your best bet.

Taxes: You Can't Avoid Them

Creating a tax plan that minimizes your tax liability is key to your life. Understanding how to cut your overall taxes and how to shelter your income from taxes is a superb way to secure your future. Let's face it, there is simply no way possible that you can totally avoid taxes. But, with a proper plan, you can pay only the taxes you have to, and not a penny more.

Estate: Get It Together

Death, like taxes, is of course inevitable. So planning for it is critical to everyone. Don't leave your assets to be divided up by a judge, or worse, by the state. You are showing that you care for your family now by ensuring they are protected from excessive taxes and financial difficulties when you die. Consult a lawyer or estate planner to discover your options.

Retirement: Keeping Those Years "Golden"

Ok, so retirement may be the last thing on your mind right now. Life just seems too busy. But also important to note, is that time flies awfully quickly. This is why retirement is important to plan for now, and not later, when there may not be time. It's a simple fact that most Americans earn well over a million dollars during their working years. Evaluating how that should change or stay the same in your Golden Years is a superb move for today!

Turning The Great Eight Into One

Once you've pulled the eight characteristics above together, you are on a great road to a secure financial future. Obviously, though, discipline and goal setting is necessary with every step. Ensuring these goals are followed means you should keep them achievable (as in avoid: "Goal: To Have $1 million By Next Year"), and precise (Not: Goal: To Buy A House, Instead: To Buy A House for $200,000 by 2005) and understand that each of the eight components above have goals that will collide with other. Learning to bring these goals together and stay disciplined will ensure you and your family's future is as secure as possible!

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