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Personal Finance

Personal finance is the most important aspect of anyone's life. Everyone knows it is next to impossible to get through life without money. At bare minimum, everyone requires food, water, shelter and clothing. Unless you are proficient at bartering, you need cash to survive.

Many people put personal finance on the back burner because they are barely scraping by. Others don't have a clue about how to create a household budget or balance their check register. Millions of Americans are forced to work well past retirement age because they didn't tend their finance garden in their early years. Some have made bad financial decisions, while others have faced horrific financial disasters such as bankruptcy and foreclosure.

In a perfect world, parents would build a savings account for their children the day they are born and teach them how to be financially responsible adults. Unfortunately, this rarely occurs. Children grow up, venture out on their own and fall flat on their face because they don't possess personal finance basics.

If you are struggling to make ends meet, it is time to get serious about your financial outlook. While it can be challenging to make cutbacks, looking at the big picture can take away some of the sting. Building a nest egg can bring peace of mind in knowing that when it comes time to retire you will have the necessary funds set aside.

Budgeting is one of the most effective techniques to help you determine where to cut expenses. Creating a budget doesn't cost a dime and only requires an hour of time, but the payoff can last a lifetime.

Start by compiling a list of income and expenses. If you earn less than your total bills you either need to find a way to make more money or reduce expenses. Housing costs are typically the largest expense. Homeowners may find they need to sell their house and move into less expensive quarters if they cannot afford their mortgage payments. Otherwise, they face the possibility of losing their home to foreclosure.

While it is easier for renter's to relocate, moving can be quite expensive. Most landlords require a security deposit along with the first and last month's rent. Utility companies often require deposits for new customers. Tenants with pets generally must pay an additional pet deposit and a higher rental rate. Instead of living in a gated community or high-rent district, downsizing may be in order.

Cars are usually the second largest expense. While everyone would enjoy driving a shiny new car, if you can't afford one there is nothing wrong with driving an older model or taking public transportation. In addition to car payments, there is car insurance, maintenance and repairs and the cost of fuel. If you are struggling to make your car payment, you might need to sell it and purchase an older vehicle to free yourself from monthly payments.

Personal finance budgeting also requires review of daily expenses. Many people waste a large amount of money on material things that provide zero return on investment. These include cigarettes, alcohol, lottery tickets, fancy coffee drinks and fast food lunches.

Over the years, I have talked with hundreds of people facing financial ruin. When they take time to review where their money is being spent, they are always surprised to see how much is wasted. Chances are you will be surprised as well.

There are plenty of places to obtain personal finance advice and budgeting tips. The Internet provides a wealth of information, budgeting tools, personal finance software and calculators. The library provides personal finance books and home study courses that can be borrowed at no cost. There is no reason to spend money to obtain personal finance advice unless you're buried in debt and require credit counseling.

If you want to get ahead in life and enjoy your golden years, it is important to take personal finance seriously and develop a long-term plan. There is no time like the present and we invite you to begin your journey by perusing our personal finance articles. Here you will discover information on debt management, debt consolidation, debt settlement, budgeting, credit counseling, bankruptcy and more.