Personal Financial Planning Tools and How to Use Them Effectively

Here are 4 Personal Financial Planning Tools to Help Get Your Finances in Order

Financial planning sometimes gets a bad rap because it is thought of as complicated and time consuming.

Many people avoid it because they think that it requires some costly and sophisticated tools and planning techniques.

Certainly, there are some highly advanced planning methods and tools available to people who feel they can utilize them, but for most people some basic personal financial planning tools are most effective especially when there is a strategy behind their use.

Here are four essential personal financial tools anyone can use to stay on top of their financial goals:

Budget Worksheet

A detailed, working budget is the cornerstone of the personal financial planning process.

At its core, it is the key tool that will enable you to get control of your finances so that you can reduce your debt and increase your savings.

A budget worksheet should consist of five columns: Expected income, actual income, budgeted expenses, actual expenses and surplus/deficit. There should be one worksheet for each month of the year.

At the end of the month, after actual income and expenses are added, the surplus or deficits should be carried over to the next month and budget adjustments should be made accordingly.

Sure, it may be quicker to use a computer spreadsheet or an online tool, but the fact that a paper worksheet can be just as effective means there’s no excuse for putting it off.

Financial Calendar

Using a calendar to schedule important financial milestones, due dates, and other reminders will ensure that you stay on track throughout the year with bill payments, registration fees, tax filings, and extraordinary expenses.

It even helps to schedule big purchases around big sales events like Black Friday or summer clearance sales.

Smart phone or computer calendars are extremely effective for this; however, some people prefer carrying a bound journal for ready access and for organizing receipts.

Financial Journal

Keeping a financial journal is a lot like keeping an eating diary when dieting. By knowing, on a daily basis, where your money is going, it is a lot easier to control it.

It’s micromanagement which means that you can more easily make small tweaks and adjustments throughout the month that will help you stay within your budget.

Your journal should include a daily record for expenses and a place to hold receipts.

Document Organizer

One of the primary reasons people don’t begin or stay with their personal financial planning is that they are so disorganized that they don’t know where to start.

One file drawer is all that is needed to get your financial life in order and organize yourself for easy management of your finances. You will need three sets of colored files.

  • One set is for documents between two and five years old including bank statements, mortgage and credit statements, tax documents, income documents, product warranties and receipts.This set can actually be placed in a file box that can be stored in a closet.
  • A second set is for the previous year’s documents, as listed above that will be used for tax filing.These documents should be moved to the first set as soon as tax filing is completed.
  • The third set is for the current year’s documents. Your important documents, such as your will, insurance policies, birth certificates and passports should be secured in a fireproof safe box.

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