Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed June 20, 2016
Generally speaking, households that manage their finances experience fewer consumer-related problems, such as credit card defaults or identity theft. However, given the number of regular payments to be made and the fact that debt is relatively easy to fall into, managing personal finances can be a difficult task. FindLaw's Personal Finance section covers a wide variety of information pertaining to personal finance including articles about managing your finances and credit score, investing for retirement, and rebuilding your credit after a default or bankruptcy. In this section, you can also find a sample budget and a sample billing dispute letter.
Managing Personal Finances
Managing your finances is an essential part of financial planning. A clear objective and knowledge of your finances are the main components of creating a financial plan that is right for you. Managing personal finances involves assessing your financial situation, creating a budget, selecting a bank, making investments, paying taxes, managing any debts you might have, planning for retirement, and estate planning.
Probably two of the most important steps of managing your personal finances is assessing your financial situation and creating a budget. Assessing your personal finances, or net worth, involves taking stock of your financial assets - such as cash, income, and investments - and financial liabilities - such as loans, mortgages, and credit cards. Determining your net worth will help you in the next and probably most important step of managing your finances: creating a budget. A budget is basically a plan used to track your income and expenses, and is a good way to set financial priorities while also managing debt.
Investing for Retirement
With people living longer these days, and since most people don't receive a pension, it's important to plan for retirement. Planning for retirement allows people to live comfortably once they are no longer earning a primary income. One of the best ways to plan for retirement is to put aside money and invest that money. When investing money with the purpose of retirement, it's best to make safe investments instead of risky ones that promise quick returns.
There are several options when deciding how to invest for retirement. Before investing, it's important to understand the returns and potential risks of each investment. A few investment choices are stock, bonds, and mutual funds. It's important to understand that there is no perfect investment - each type of investment has its advantages and disadvantages. However, diversifying investments can be helpful in reducing risk. It can also help to use a financial adviser to invest for retirement although it's important to realize that since financial advisers earn money from commissions and/or charge management fees, sometimes their advice can be biased.
Retirement plans can also be a good way to create another source of income for retirement. There are two types of retirement plans that are beneficial: tax-deferred plans and non-tax-deferred plans. Tax-deferred plans, such as a 401(k) or a traditional IRA, are tax-free until withdrawn. A Roth IRA, on the other hand, is a non-tax-deferred plan, which means that contributions are not eligible for a tax deduction but withdrawals are not taxed. As with other investments, it's helpful to diversify retirement plans to balance the advantages and disadvantages of each plan.
Hiring an Attorney
Typically, managing personal finances doesn't require the assistance of an attorney. However, if you are having financial issues that you find to be too difficult to handle on your own, you may want to contact a consumer attorney in your area to discuss your legal options.
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