February 8, 2024

Intro to Personal Finance

Intro to Personal Finance

Personal finance is like tending to a garden, where every seed planted represents a step towards achieving financial stability and nurturing your future. It involves managing your money wisely and crafting a plan to reach your short-term and long-term financial goals, whether they involve saving for a vacation, paying off debts, or securing your retirement nest egg. We’ll be breaking them down into 7 main topics; budgeting, saving, investing, debt management, insurance, retirement planning, and estate planning.


Embarking on your personal finance journey, the first step is to familiarize yourself with your personal financial situation and create a budget. A budget is made up of two parts: income and expenses. Income refers to any cash inflow and includes money earned from jobs, businesses, investments, or a side hustle. Expenses refers to any cash outflow and includes bills, groceries, shopping, interest payments, and other miscellaneous expenses. Regularly tracking and adjusting your budget is key to staying on top of your finances and working towards your financial goals.


Part of sticking to a budget is knowing how to save. Rule of thumb says to set aside 20% of your income for savings each month and to create an emergency fund that covers three to six months' worth of expenses. Additionally, establishing specific saving goals, such as for a down payment on a house or a dream vacation, will help in sticking to working towards those savings goals.


Additionally, you could further grow your savings by investing. Investing is a common way of growing wealth over time, and it involves putting money into different financial instruments such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or real estate with the expectation of earning a return. Investing requires thorough research or advice from a financial advisor before making investment decisions to ensure they align with your financial goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon.

Debt Management

The opposite of investments, debts can be major roadblocks in an otherwise sound financial roadmap. Thus, effective debt management is crucial for maintaining good financial health. Start by understanding your current debts, including credit cards, loans, and mortgages, then plan to pay off high-interest debts first while making the minimum payments on other debts. Also, avoid accumulating unnecessary debt by practicing disciplined spending habits and distinguishing between essential and discretionary purchases. Consider strategies like debt consolidation or negotiating lower interest rates to simplify and expedite your repayment process.


Another common cost, insurance provides financial protection against unforeseen events. Common types of insurance include health insurance, auto insurance, home insurance, and life insurance. Assess your insurance needs based on factors such as age, health, dependents, and assets, then research and compare different insurance policies to ensure you have the coverage that meets your needs.

Retirement Planning

While retirement may seem distant, it's important to start planning early. Consider contributing to retirement accounts such as a 401(k), IRA, or pension plan, while taking advantage of employer matching contributions if available. The power of compound interest over time can significantly impact your retirement savings, so the earlier you start, the better. For example, after 20 years of contributing $10k annually to a 401(k) account with a 7% annual return, the account would have approximately $411,385. Not a bad chunk of change for when you do retire.

Estate Planning

Lastly, estate planning involves creating a plan for the management and distribution of your assets after your passing. It includes creating a will, designating beneficiaries for financial accounts, setting up trusts, and appointing guardians for minor children if applicable. While it may not seem urgent, estate planning ensures your wishes are carried out and can provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones.