| April 19, 2013

Keys to an effective financial plan

Many people who are trying to improve their finances seek advice and use a range of resources to help develop a money management plan that works for them. However, there is a great wealth of information available, and it can be easy for consumers to become overwhelmed with the many tips and guidelines to follow. Individuals may have their own budgeting tricks and shortcuts to saving money, but there are a few across-the-board money moves that Americans should adopt to facilitate financial health. 

A recent MSN Money article highlighted one of the top keys Americans need to improve their finances – differentiating between wants and needs. In most cases, drawing a line between the two can be easy and simply boil down to how well a person can resist temptation. In other cases, however, the line can be blurred and it’s important for individuals to think about the long-term consequences of their decision. For example, if a person’s car breaks down and they must purchase a new one to get to and from work, they may be tempted to buy a pricier model rather than a good used vehicle that will the job. Even though they may need a vehicle, they can get by with a less luxurious vehicle that will yield them more savings on gas and insurance. 

Another crucial rule consumers must follow involves living within their means. While most people have been given this piece of advice time and again, a large percentage of people fail to follow it and instead rely on credit to make up for income shortfalls. This can not only lead to debt and irresponsible spending, but the longer individuals use credit to make unnecessary purchases, the more difficult it may be to break this dangerous habit. Therefore, it’s crucial that consumers develop and abide by a feasible budget that that forces them to make responsible decisions about how they manage their income.

Maximizing savings opportunities

Lastly, it’s important that consumers know how to optimize their savings to get the largest returns. This may include contributing money to an IRA, opening a certificate of deposit or high-yield savings account or opening a money market fund. While staying on top of bills and avoiding debt are essential to a healthy financial foundation, the ability to make the most out of savings resources is also important to being prepared for the future. 

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