SUMMARY OF FRESHMAN YEAR
Now that you’ve completed your “Freshman Year”, you should have a good understanding of the basics of personal finance and an overview of how to reduce your debt. To summarize what you’ve learned this first “year”, we’ve covered:
- PF101: Introduction to Personal Finance & Goals – The benefits of having a plan for your financial future (including being prepared for unexpected financial situations, reaching retirement and savings goals, being able to save for your children’s college expenses, not arguing with your spouse or significant other about finances and more). Also, why and how to set specific financial goals, including a spreadsheet to help you make and track these goals and a handout to give you examples of these goals.
- PF102: Creating a Net Worth Statement – How and why to track your net worth on a quarterly basis, including a spreadsheet to include all your assets, liabilities and net worth.
- PF103: Tracking Your Expenses – Reasons to track your expenses, methods to use as well as a spreadsheet to track ongoing expenses by category.
- PF104: Creating a Budget and Cash Flow Statement – Creating a budget (simply a plan!) for your money each month as well as the difference between traditional and zero-based budgets. Also, a spreadsheet to use to complete monthly and annual budgets and a handout for budgeting seasonal and non-regular expenses. Also, the value of having a cash flow statement on a monthly and annual basis, as well as a spreadsheet to track these cash flows.
- PF105: Setting up an Emergency Fund & Cash Reserve – Why and how to set up an emergency fund and a cash reserve to plan for unexpected expenses and emergencies such as medical emergencies and unemployment as well as a spreadsheet to calculate exactly how much you need based on your own personal expenses.
- DM101: Debt Overview & Credit Cards – Overview of bad vs. good debt and revolving vs. non-revolving debt and steps to take before starting your debt payment plan. Also, a spreadsheet to help you to pay off your credit card debt by paying extra and putting your paid off debt payments toward other debt and a handout for the why and how to get out of debt.
- DM102: Debt Reduction – An explanation of how amortization schedules work and the benefits of creating or requesting one for each of your long-term installment loans, as well as a spreadsheet to create your own amortization schedules.’
- ST101: Budgeting for a Vacation – How to budget for you vacation, so that you can stay in line with your financial goals, including a spreadsheet to budget and track totals.
REVISE YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS
Now that you have more information about your own personal financial situation (especially how much money you spend each money and what your net worth is), you should take this opportunity to look again at your financial goals. I recommend specifically asking yourself the following questions:
- Is my current goal for creating an emergency fund and cash reserve sufficient as well as the time frame I have for saving for these funds?
- Can I pay more each month toward paying off debt, especially credit card debt and consumer loans? Is my time frame for getting my debt paid off realistic?
- Looking back at my monthly and annual budgets with how much can currently I set aside each month for my goals such as vacation/travel, retirement, college funding, etc., do I need to (and can I) cut back certain expenses in my budget to allocate more of my money toward categories that actually matter to me?
EXAMPLE: THE SMITH FAMILY
The Smith family (used as an example family in each class), makes the following changes (in red) after looking at their budget, debt payoff schedules and emergency fund requirements. Highlighted in blue are tasks/goals that they’ve completed already.
Great job on completion of your first year of learning about MAKING YOUR MONEY MATTER!