When we talk about financial planning, it can seem like a complicated and daunting task. The truth, however, is that most people don’t plan their money out because they don’t know where to start or what steps to take. Luckily, there are simple things you can do to plan your finances effectively, such as creating a budget to make sure your money goes toward the things that matter most to you, like saving for retirement or paying off debts. Use these tips to get started on your path toward financial planning and finally have more control over your money! The first step to financial planning is creating a budget
Step 1: Know what you earn
Knowing your income and expenses is the first step in getting your finances on track. Here are some tips for making sure you know exactly what you’re bringing in each month:
1) Track all of your income for the past year. What jobs did you have? Do you get any benefits from work? Is there anything else that might be considered income?
2) Track everything you spend over the course of one month, including bills, groceries, gas, etc. The first step to financial planning is creating a budget
Step 2: Figure out your essential expenses
Essential expenses are the most basic, necessary costs of living. Figuring out how much you need in these categories will help you get an idea of how much money you’ll need to save each month. Keep in mind that some essential expenses are recurring, while others may only happen once or twice a year.
* Housing – The monthly rent or mortgage payment on your home or apartment will usually be the largest expense in this category.
Step 3: Add in your luxury expenses
This is a tricky one. You need to really think about what you consider a luxury expense. If it’s something you spend money on monthly, consider cutting back on it and see if that has an impact on your bottom line. If it’s something you only spend money on every once in awhile, that may not be as big of an issue. Remember, the goal of this exercise is to make sure your income will support all of your expenses, including those luxury items!
Step 4: Set savings goals
4) Set savings goals. It is important to set savings goals for yourself and your family. These goals should be things that you want or need (e.g., paying off debt, saving for retirement, saving for your children’s education), not things that you think are necessary (e.g., spending on groceries).
Step 5: Calculate how much you can spend on extras and discretionary purchases
At this point, you’ve created a budget and know how much money you have left over after covering your living expenses. Now it’s time to figure out what to do with the rest of your income. If you’re just starting out, it might be tempting to spend all of your extra money on new clothes or that fancy dinner date night with your significant other.
Step 6 – Pay yourself first
Paying yourself is the most important part of your financial plan. If you are not sure how much you should be paying yourself, just make sure that you are saving enough money so that by the end of the month, your paycheck will have been reduced by at least 10%. You need this money for things like food and savings, but it’s also important because it’s a way to ensure that you’re getting ahead in life.
Step 7 – Invest!
It’s important not to forget about investing when you’re thinking of your future. Investing is crucial because it makes your money grow in the long term, which means that any emergency fund you set up or any other savings you put away will be multiplied over time.
Step 8 – Make an emergency fund last
Now that you have an emergency fund, it is time for you to start saving for other goals. We recommend having enough money saved for three months of your expenses. This will ensure that you do not need to borrow any money should an emergency arise. You can use the following steps as a guideline:
Step 8 – Make your emergency fund last
In order to make your emergency fund last, you will need to set up a monthly transfer from your checking account into your savings account.
Step 9 – Consider having an RRSP or TFSA, but don’t stress it too much
For the most part, RRSPs and TFSAs are designed to help you save money. They both offer tax benefits but they work in different ways. TFSA offers tax-free growth and withdrawals while RRSPs offer tax-deferred growth. Consider which one works best for your situation.