This book is chock-full of solid advice — plus tips and tricks — to help you reach your financial goals, no matter what your current financial situation is and no matter how lofty your goals are. okay, so you may not be able to cash out your stock portfolio and retire to Mauiat age thirty-five, especially if you're currently thirty-four. But you can live a life free from the stress of dodging creditors and wondering how in the world you're going to make your rent or mortgage payment.
“How so?” you may ask. Well, imagine the following as your future life. Every two weeks, on a Friday, you receive a notice from your employer that your paycheck has been directly deposited to your bank: a portion to your retirement account, a portion to your savings account, and a portion to your checking account. During the weekend, you pay the bills that will come due before your next paycheck — and not only do you have enough money to cover all those bills, but you also withdraw some spending money for the next two weeks. Meanwhile, the money in your retirement account is increasing every day, and the money in your savings account — after the six months' salary you always leave in there for emergencies — is growing to pay for the sofa you've had your eye on, that vacation you're going to take next summer, the baby you're expecting later this year, or any other great use for your money you can think of!
Sound impossible? It's not. With careful budgeting — and a commitment to live within that budget — your life can be exactly like the one just described. Between now and then, though, you may have to radically rein in your spending, aggressively pay down your debts, and begin to save. If your situation is serious enough, you may have to live like a monk for the next six months (or more). But at the end of that time, you'll be well on your way toward developing a cushion of savings in the bank, planning for your retirement and/or your child's college education, and having enough income to meet your needs each month.
To get started, first you'll want to determine which part of your current spending plan is a high priority. Then you'll want to understand your overall financial picture, as it is now. Don't shy away from this step, even if you know that your financial picture is very, very bad. knowing the full breadth of your assets and financial obligations helps you establish a budget that will change your financial picture from bleak to promising.
If you're having trouble balancing your personal budget, consider putting a temporary moratorium on spending. You'll likely also want to cut down on your existing financial obligations, small and large, immediately tackle your debt, and, if necessary, find ways to add income so that you can get out of debt even faster. You should also know how to survive unemployment and other budget catastrophes, including ways to get help from the government when necessary.
After that, you decide what other areas you need help with. Thinking about getting married or moving in with a partner? Worried about how to save for a new baby? Thinking about buying a house (and yes, you can save up enough for a down payment)? Are you saving for your child's education? Found yourself separated or divorced and aren't sure what financial step to take next? Want to plan for retirement? Having trouble staying motivated?