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DIY: Your 5-Step Financial Planning Guide

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If you’re starting out to plan your financial future, it can get overwhelming. While many opt for a financial advisor to take care of the entire process, you can always handle your financial planning all by yourself (it’s simple, really) if you’ve got the right tools.

For starters, here’s what you need:

1. Set Goals!

Chalk out your goals—it can be short term, like paying off your card payment bills or long term, to meet expenses like retirement and your kids’ education.

Take a step back and do a reality check. Where do you stand now? How are your cash flows? How soon can you meet your expenses? Create a timeline to achieve these targets (and ensure you meet them!)

2. Do The Math

Calculate your total assets, after deducting the debts—and budget smart. Ditch your debt to stay away from piling on more to your list of financial risks. If you’ve got way too many debts to clear and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of them, here’s a great tool that comes in handy.

3. Build An Emergency Fund

Uncertainties can be hard, more so if they have a significant financial impact—be it an illness, job loss, or even global downturns.

To evade being stranded, ensure that you’ve built an emergency fund (a good start would be to keep aside six months’ worth of expenses), along with solid insurance coverage to back you up.

4. Hire The Right Agents

Apart from the general power of attorney, also ensure you lay out a directive in case a medical emergency comes up (if you’re incapacitated—we know, it’s not the best of thoughts to ponder over). To ensure you plan right, avail the services of an accountant, a real estate planning authority, and a medical power of attorney.

5. Earn Money On Your Money

The final step is to make sure you earn returns off your money. How’d you go about this? To start with, educate yourself. Read, read and read some more—research about what stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and other financial instruments do. Understand their risks, costs and how you can work on diversifying your investment.

It’s important to invest in something you understand.

Post this, set up your accounts to meet each of your goals—through monthly contribution plans, 401(k)s, low-cost index funds, IRAs or other savings plans. If all these details get you dizzy (or overwhelmingly hard), you’re better off with a financial planner who can do the research and investment planning for you.

Personal Finance

VIDEO: 3 Things You MUST Know About Your Credit Score

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We all know what a credit score is. Sort of. But what really goes into your credit score? In this video, Investopedia breaks it down. Here are the top 3 factors that affect your credit score — and what you can do about it.

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Personal Finance

INTERVIEW: Kevin O’Leary On How To Survive A Market Downturn

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Market downturns are inevitable. Just as the boom drives home the big bucks, recession can plunge many into despair with low employment, weak wages and dwindling upbeat market sentiments.

In this video, Shark Tank host, Kevin O’Leary talks about how you can win during the market downturn.

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Personal Finance

How To Invest Your Way To Your First $1M (In 8 Steps)

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While being a millionaire most certainly offers a sense of privilege and extravagance, it also provides comfort.

Despite the idea that many of life’s luxuries can cost you your bank (plus a large chunk of your future earnings), achieving comfortable wealth is possible—if you’ve got a solid investment plan you’ll follow religiously.

Here are eight investment strategies to work your way to your first million dollars.

1. Say No To Fees (Of Any Sort!)

Investing comes packed with hidden and some obvious fees – broker fees, distributor fees, exit and entry fees, maintenance fees, and a string of other service-based fees. If you can manage your own investments and money, you can save hundreds of thousands in fees over the lifetime of your investment.

2.  Don’t Try To Time The Market

This can be one of the biggest blunders one can make—simply because it’s impossible, speculative and you’re gambling with your savings. While there are indicators that show market trends, this does not promise that your investment will most certainly move up or down.

3. Think Long Term And Diversify

If you put all your investments into one asset class, your investment will tank the minute the asset class goes into free fall. How do you beat this? Plan and diversify your investment – it could be debt, treasury bills, equity, real estate, startups, business ideas – anything, as long as you think long-term. This can pay off in the long run.

4. Think Like An Owner

When you buy your stocks or make your investments, think and act like it’s yours – you’ll be doubly careful to make the right checks and invest smart. When you invest in solid, robust companies with this in mind, the returns would also be equally strong. Good companies can pay you high dividends that can up your total income.

5. Invest In Yourself First

Be it education or investing for your retirement, put yourself first and then try to budget for the other frills in life.

6. Borrow If You Can, Don’t Buy

With a growing shared economy, you now have plenty to choose from – co-working spaces, ride-hailing and ride-sharing services, shared rentals and accommodation, and the list goes on. Here’s where you can really cut costs – be it while running your business or as a regular looking to channel the savings elsewhere.

7. Set Goals (And Stick To Them)

Make sure you start saving as early as possible and invest it – even a dollar can compound over time. As time goes, set bigger goals and get excited about them! Once bonuses and income increases come your way, bump up your investments – it can soon touch a quarter of a million.

8. Max Out Early

Your 401K can be one of your biggest retirement funds and maxing out your annual contribution by the end of June can be a great way to boost your retirement savings. How does this help? It gives your money an additional six months to compound.

 

 

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