Welcome to orientation day! Ever wished you could go back to school? Okay, me neither. Been there, done that. But…have you ever wanted to educate yourself to get your personal finances organized, create a budget you can actually stick to and have the peace of mind of knowing that you’re covered with any financial emergency? Okay, then you’re in the right place after all! There is no quick and easy way to secure your financial future, but if you spend the time to educate yourself and evaluate your personal situation on a step-by-step basis, the rewards can be just as fulfilling as completing a college degree. It’s worth it, I promise!
Together, we’ll spend the next few months learning about personal finance topics ranging from setting goals to insurance coverage to retirement and estate planning. Let’s start with a summary of the classes we will be covering. Classes will be posted each Monday and more resources and related information will subsequently be posted during the week to help you while you’re completing your “homework” assignments. Download the Class Overview Guide to get started (shown below).
As a quick summary, the classes are set up as follows:
- Objectives-the main points for the class
- Handout-information to print and put in your financial binder to help you with completing the assignments
- Assignment-a task (usually in spreadsheet form) to complete for your own personal financial situation
- Lecture material-educational information you need to be able to complete each aspect of your financial plan
- Example-meet Jim & Mary Smith and follow along with their financial plan from initial goal-setting to estate planning
WHAT DO I NEED TO GET STARTED?!
For years, I’ve had one day per week where I set aside time to work on my finances-paying the bills, checking account balances, inputting transactions, etc. I also have assigned a day of the week that I focus on each of my other chores-laundry, cleaning the bathroom, grocery shopping, etc. Since I enjoy budgeting and planning my finances, and I really, really dislike cleaning, I look forward to this day! Plan to set aside a day and time where you can work on these assignments. Each of these classes and tasks may take longer than a week to complete and that’s absolutely fine. Making a plan to get out of debt specifically may take you a few extra weeks or months, but you may want to focus on tackling this before moving onto learning more about saving & investing. But the key point is that it’s really important to keep up on your finances EVERY single week. The main reason is that you are going to start tracking your expenses-yes, ALL of your expenses–and you’re not going to want to get behind to the point where you are overwhelmed and give up. I promise yet again. It’s going to be worth it!
We will be using Microsoft Excel primarily for most assignments, but if you do not have Microsoft Office on your computer, or prefer to work on a mobile device, the next best option would be to download the Google document file instead. Both versions will be included for each assignment. Although I love good printables around the web and am always seeing the very lovely budget and personal finance handouts in PDF format, I feel like they are useless to me because I do not want to spend my time manually updating them every month and totaling numbers by hand. I want everything automated so I can spend the time I have looking at how I can improve and meet my other financial goals. I LOVE Excel, so I highly recommend it. Like… I use it on a near daily basis for household organization and finances because I love it so much (nerd, I know). Nonetheless, a big plus to Google Drive is that your documents are stored in the cloud and you can pull them up and edit them wherever you go. However, you want to review Google’s security guidelines here and make sure you’re comfortable with this.
Here are the recommended supplies and resources needed for the class (no expensive textbooks? yay!):
- 3-ring binder (at least 2-inch) for Financial Plan
- Cover sheet – download for Excel | Google Docs
- Set of 8 dividers for Financial Plan binder (I used plastic sheet protector divider tabs)
- Additional post-it tabs or dividers to create sub-dividers for the categories (i.e. to separate homeowner’s, auto, medical insurance, etc. under the main insurance category)
- 3-ring binder (at least 2-inch) for Annual Budgeting binder (unless you desire to have a completely paperless system)
- 3-ring punched pocket to keep unpaid bills in
- Set of 12 tabs (Jan-Dec) for Annual Budgeting binder (or use post-it tabs)
- Access to a computer with Excel (recommended) or Google Docs/Drive
- Printer (unless going with a completely paperless system)
- Scanner (if going for a completely paperless system this is a necessity!)
- Dropbox or Evernote to backup financial data, recommended
Be sure to get your supplies together, because tomorrow we will go over setting up the financial binders and a digital filing system. See you in class!