Saving: Figure Out Your Finances

This post is the second in a series of 9 posts under the category of “Save”. The posts will essentially be reprints of 9 articles from Investor.gov, a Securities and Exchange Commission  web site. The 9 articles present a roadmap to sound saving and investing. You are invited to visit Investor.gov to view the original articles.

The 9 steps to the Savings and Investing Roadmap are:

Define Your goals (previous post)
Figure Out Your Finances (this post)
Small Savings Add Up to Big Money
Pay Off Credit Cards or Other High Interest Debt
Save for a Rainy Day
Understand What It Means to Invest
Diversify Your Investments
Gauge Your Risk Tolerance
Learn About Investment Options

“Figure Out Your Finances

Take an honest look at your entire financial situation — what you own and what you owe. This is a “net worth statement. ” On one side, list what you own. These are your “assets. ” On the other side, list what you owe. These are your “liabilities” or debts. Click here for a printable Net Worth Worksheet. Subtract your liabilities from your assets. If your assets are larger than your liabilities, you have a “positive” net worth. If your liabilities are larger than your assets, you have a “negative” net worth.

You’ll want to update your “net worth statement” every year to keep track of how you are doing. Don’t be discouraged if you have a negative net worth — following a financial plan will help you turn it into positive net worth.

The next step is to keep track of your income and expenses. Click here for a printable Monthly Income and Expenses Worksheet. Write down what you and others in your family earn and spend each month, and include a category for savings and investing. If you are spending all your income, and never have money to save or invest, start by cutting back on expenses. When you watch where you spend your money, you will be surprised how small everyday expenses can add up. Many people get into the habit of saving and investing by paying themselves first. An easy way to do this is to have your bank automatically deposit money from your paycheck into a savings or investment account.”

The Trick Is Taking Action and Following Through

Many of us look at advice like this and say something like, “Everybody knows that”. And that’s more or less true. We hope by repeating this sage advice our members and other visitors will get the following message:

“Knowing the way to financial security and taking the steps to achieve it are very different.”

(editor’s note) Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union offers the use of MoneyDesktop, online software that assists with the organization, tracking, and presentation of financial information critical to the successful implementation of a strategy such as depicted here. There is no charge for this service to members of the Credit Union. Visit our web site or call the office, 203.227.8511.

Let Us Know

Let us know if this kind of information is useful. Leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you.