|Whether you have just won the lottery or are struggling to meet monthly expenses, your future financial comfort depends on creating - and sticking to - a long-term money management strategy. Everyone's Money Book on Financial Planning helps you do just that.
Jordan Goodman's simple yet comprehensive advice has earned him the nickname ""America's Money Answers Man,"" and his new book is a primer for consumers who need those answers. In Everyone's Money Book on Financial Planning, Goodman shows readers not only how to give themselves a financial checkup, but what they should do with the results. He also covers issues like budgeting, financing insurance needs, finding a trustworthy financial advisor, and smart strategies for every age and situation.
Congratulations. By opening this book, you are taking your first step toward financial fitness. It all starts with your recognition of the importance of planning for your financial future, no matter what your age or financial situation. Even if you just won the lottery or inherited a cool million, your future financial comfort would depend on putting together a long-term money management strategy.
Consider the numbers: If it takes $4,000 a month—$48,000 a year—to live comfortably today, with inflation of just 3 percent a year, in just 15 years you would need more than $6,600 a month, or almost $80,000 annually, to maintain your lifestyle. But don’t be intimidated. You do not have to live paycheck to paycheck, and you do not have to be rich to achieve financial independence or to look forward to a comfortable retirement. You do have to take charge of your finances and understand how to make your money work for you. This book is your starting point to help you plan and chart your right financial course, so that your money doesn’t manage you. The sooner you get started, the quicker you and your family will reap the financial rewards of your efforts.
Many people ignore financial planning because they think they don’t have enough money to make it worthwhile, or they figure they don’t need it or can’t afford it. Chances are you have more than you think—both in assets and financial knowledge. And if you still aren’t sure you are capable of understanding enough about money to take charge, there is plenty of free or low-cost information or help available in print, online, or in person—all of which you will find out about in this book.
I know that many people and organizations in the money business have a vested interest in keeping financial knowledge as mysterious as possible. I disagree wholeheartedly with this approach. By spending a little time learning about money, you can understand all the major aspects of financial planning and acquire enough confidence to make solid financial decisions. After all, even if you have a half-dozen financial advisors at your beck and call, the final decisions on what to do with your money are ultimately yours to make.
This book is loaded with easy-to-use worksheets and a plethora of resources, including books, magazines, newsletters, trade associations, government agencies, and Web sites. With a connection to the Internet and a few mouse clicks, you can get the latest financial news; search for price quotes; buy stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and insurance policies; find the cheapest credit cards; locate grants and scholarships for your child’s college education; or learn about any area of personal finance. Many Web sites offer search tools and calculators to make it easy to personalize the information to your situation. If you would like a copy of Everyone’s Money Software, which offers all of the worksheets in this book in an interactive format.
If you don’t like exploring the Web on your own, there also are sites that search for you to find what you need. Many of these sites are listed in the "Resources" section of each chapter. A note of caution when it comes to the online world: As in the real world, consumers need to beware of fraud, whether it is get-rich-quick schemes, identity theft, or some other scam. With the pervasive aspect of the Internet, privacy issues surface, too. So when you use the Web to gather or share information or make a transaction, be sure you are dealing with reputable organizations. They will usually display a seal from a trustworthy organization, such as BBBOnline (the Better Business Bureau’s online arm), TRUSTe, or VeriSign. Do not provide personal information unless you know a Web site is secure. Generally, you can tell a site is secure if there is a small icon of a locked padlock or key (depending on your browser) on your screen. If the site is not secure, the padlock will be unlocked, indicating the data is not encrypted when it travels across cyberspace.
If you are not computer savvy, there are still many resources to help you improve your financial situation. There are dozens of financial periodicals, books, pamphlets, and toll-free consumer help lines and organizations in this book to help you on your way to financial fitness.
With all this in mind, get ready to take control of your financial destiny. It starts now. No one will ever care about your personal financial situation as much as you do. This is your chance to make the best of your financial potential.