reading financial planner

How to Create a Personal Finance Planner

If one of your new year’s resolutions is to have better finances, but you seem to be doubtful of your ability to achieve it, maybe all you need is a little help from a financial planner. If hiring a professional who deals with finances to do it for you is out of your league, you can attend a personal finance online course and do it yourself.

There are several stores and online platforms that sell personal financial planners, but you can easily make it yourself. Doing it yourself allows you to customize your planner so that it gets as detailed as you want it and that it suits you best. All you need is a blank notebook and some writing material. Here are some of the key things you can include in your planner:

Financial Goals

Just as how a professional financial planner would ask of you, you should also include your financial goals in your personal financial planner. Jot down all of the goals you plan to achieve for the year, for each month, and for the distant future.

  • Short-term goals. The scope of short term personal financial goals stretches from routine expenses such as rent and utilities to one-time goals such as minor home repairs.
  • Medium-term goals. This in-betweener includes goals that can take up a few years to achieve, such as planning for a big event like a wedding, going on a family vacation, buying a car, or renovating your house. 
  • Long-term goals. These goals are long-standing and need constant and consistent attention to attain. They are usually “big picture” expenses like your retirement fund, your child’s college fund, your future house, or your dream business

Income

To achieve your financial goals, you will understandably need funding. Listing down your sources of income gives you an idea of where you will be tapping from to tick off each of your goals. Make sure to account for each dollar that you earn every month.

  • Salary. If you are employed, this can be applied. Technically, a salary is a fixed monthly or bi-monthly income that is given to an employee by an employer. Salaries differ across the country, and you can check out the average salary statistics for US workers to see where you currently stand. 
  • Business profit. If you currently own a business and it generates profit, you can count that in as yet another source of income.
  • Other sources. Other sources of income can come from investments, interest, dividends, or windfall such as an inheritance or selling a big piece of property.
financial planner with calculator

Savings

Set aside that portion of your income which goes into savings. This section is the part where you review all of your financial goals, especially the long-term ones, and create a basis from which you can categorize your savings.

  • Emergency. An essential portion of your savings plan is your emergency fund. This specific fund is where you will source out unforeseen urgent expenses such as medical needs that are not covered by insurance, immediate house repairs, and car repairs.
  • Retirement. This fund is likely the most long-term out of all your long-term goals and thus will need constant and consistent input from you. Getting a retirement plan will not only give you better returns in the long run but will also discipline you into putting in money regularly in the form of premium payments. 
  • College. If you plan on saving your kids from the burden of having to pay off student loans for the rest of their lives, setting up a college fund would be a good idea. Even if you don’t save enough to get them through an entire degree program, you can at least minimize the financial impact of expensive college fees.
  • Dream vacation. To add a bit of positive energy and inspiration to your financial plans, you can throw in something fun and exciting, something big that you have been craving for like a dream vacation. You can make this a yearly thing so that you have something to look forward to as a reward for all of your penny-pinching.

Expenses

This portion is the part where you need to be extra particular about details. Keep in mind that every penny counts and that every little expense adds up to a greater total. You should also be honest about the amount of your expenses since this is the only way you can make an accurate assessment of your spending habits. Below are the top things your expense tracker should contain:

budget division tokens
  • Bills. Gas, electricity, telephone, and everything that is regularly used and charged to you fall under this category. It would be extra helpful if you can keep copies of your bills payments, either in payment or virtually, so that you can keep track of your monthly consumption and assess whether you need to cut down somewhere.
  • Other payables. You might have availed other recurring services like a health plan or club memberships. This is the portion of your personal finance plan that you need to evaluate regularly for practicality. Assess whether each payable is worth paying for if you intend to use it to get your money’s worth or if you don’t need it after all.
  • Shopping list. It can be as specific as dedicating an entire page each week for your supermarket trips to specify the price for each of the goods you bought. It could also be as simple as jotting down the total amount you spend for each grocery trip. It’s all up to you how detailed you want your shopping breakdown to be.
  • Miscellaneous. Other expenses that don’t seem to fit in the previously-discussed categories can be placed under this portion. Spontaneous trips, clothing, toys, gadget, and other wants fall under this section of the planner. Listing all of those down gives you an idea of how much you spend on inessentials and also suggests areas where you can trim down on your budget if needed.

Creating a personal planner is often part of a personal finance online course since it documents your spending and saving habits accurately as long as you keep your entries updated and honest. It gives you a general idea of your financial strengths and weaknesses and can help you identify critical areas to improve and keep you on track.

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About The Author

Vanessa R.

Vanessa R.

Vanessa has been a freelance writer for eight years, providing content independently and through various online platforms. Having worn many hats—a former student journalist, a registered nurse, an aspiring mom-blogger, plus six years of pharmaceutical sales experience under her belt, she adopts a broad range of approaches to tackling different subjects in personal and professional development. In her spare time, she enjoys chasing her two rowdy boys around the house.