In today’s complicated world, it’s often not enough to do something…everyone wants to know which “method” you’ve chosen. Pregnant women are asked which childbirth method they’re planning to use. Parents are asked which sleep training method they’re using and what their parenting style is. Businessmen and women are asked which management strategies they employ. Homes often follow a certain “period” or style. It’s no longer enough to just find something you like and go with it. Now everyone needs a blueprint to follow, it seems.
Finances are no different. Do an internet search on “budgeting” or “family finances” or “debt reduction,” and you’ll find hundreds of plans, strategies, and books on how to handle your situation. The start of the year is a traditional time for adults to consider their budget and financial situation, and with the tough economy we're dealing with, it's becoming more and more important to do just that. Here’s a brief overview of some of the most popular tools for managing personal finances. I’d love to hear what you’re doing to manage your family budget.
- Some of the most popular buzzwords in recent years have been “Dave Ramsey” and “Financial Peace University.” Ramsey’s program is a 13-week course (usually two classes a week) that claims families pay off an average of $5300 in debt and save $2700 in the course of those three months. The classes are typically around $100 and are offered in multiple locations, led by “Financial Counselors” who have gone through a training course within the program. Visit www.daveramsey.com for more information.
- Other families find that hiring a financial planner is the way to go, as far as getting the help they need for navigating monthly and annual budgets as well as long-term savings goals. John Hancock and Charles Schwab are two of the most well-known financial planning companies, but most banks have financial planners available to talk with clients, as well.
- Others prefer to tackle things on their own, sometimes with the help of a book or two. A few of the highest ranked financial planning books on amazon.com include Carl Richards’s The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money, Jim Stovall’s The Ultimate Financial Plan: Balancing Your Money and Life, and Jeff Opdyke’s The Wall Street Journal Complete Personal Finance Guidebook. A quick search of Amazon.com on “personal finances” yields over 36,000 results, though, so if none of these sound good, keep looking around and you’re sure to find a book that’s a good fit.
When it comes to household budgeting, are you a class taker, do you work with a financial planner, do you research with books and internet resources, or is your system completely different? Please share what works for you.