Personal finance is the application of the principles of finance to the monetary decisions of an individual or family unit. It addresses the ways in which individuals or families obtain, budget, save and spend monetary resources over time, taking into account various financial risks and future life events. Components of personal finance might include checking and savings accounts, credit cards and consumer loans, investments in the stock market, retirement plans, social security benefits, insurance policies, and income tax management.
Personal financial planning
A key component of personal finance is financial planning, a dynamic process that requires regular monitoring and reevaluation. In general, it has five steps:
- Assessment: One's personal financial situation can be assessed by compiling simplified versions of financial balance sheets and income statements. A personal balance sheet lists the values of personal assets (e.g., car, house, clothes, stocks, bank account), along with personal liabilities (e.g., credit card debt, bank loan, mortgage). A personal income statement lists personal income and expenses.
- Setting goals: Two examples are "retire at age 65 with a personal net worth of $200,000 American" and "buy a house in 3 years paying a monthly mortgage servicing cost that is no more than 25% of my gross income". It is not uncommon to have several goals, some short term and some long term. Setting financial goals helps direct financial planning.
- Creating a plan: The financial plan details how to accomplish your goals. It could include, for example, reducing unnecessary expenses, increasing one's employment income, or investing in the stock market.
- Execution: Execution of one's personal financial plan often requires discipline and perseverance. Many people obtain assistance from professionals such as accountants, financial planners, investment advisers, and lawyers.
- Monitoring and reassessment: As time passes, one's personal financial plan must be monitored for possible adjustments or reassessments.
Typical goals most adults have are paying off credit card and or student loan debt, retirement, college costs for children, medical expenses, and estate planning.