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Effective Personal Finance Strategy for Financial Independence

By James Harris


Managing your finances can be one of the most difficult tasks we must do on a daily basis. The self control that financial management requires can be difficult for many to muster up, but some suggestions can make managing our personal finances easier. This article contains a number of tips relating to personal finance.

Stocks

In these volatile times, spreading your savings around into multiple areas is a good idea. Keep some money in a savings account, some in a checking account, some invested in stocks, some in high-interest accounts, and some in gold. Use all or some of those ideas to keep your money safe.

Rebalance any investments that you may have. Stocks and bonds have had an overall good year, though cash yields are near zero. Look at your portfolio and make sure that you don't need to move anything around so that you are earning more money. You should be doing this every year to help your portfolio.

Add some luster to your portfolio with a gold mutual fund. Having some precious metals helps diversify your investments, but the cost of buying and storing gold directly can be prohibitive. The dealer markup on gold coins, for instance, can be as much as 20%. You can indirectly invest in gold more cheaply through a gold mutual fund, which typically invests in stocks of mining companies rather than owning gold itself. One caution: the shares of the fund usually won't move exactly in tandem with the price of gold. Still, the convenience and low cost make gold funds a sensible alternative to gold coins or bullion.

Bonds

With the advent of the internet there are many tools available to evaluate stocks, bonds and other investments. But it is well to remember that there is a gap between us, as amateurs, and the professional traders. They have far more information than we do and have it much earlier. This tip is a word to the wise to avoid being overconfident.

The chances are high that your money will work harder, not in savings, bonds, stocks, etc. but in paying down your credit cards. Generally, credit card debt is the most punishing debt that households have. Credit card interest rates are now so high that paying your card debt is like putting money into a double-digit interest yielding, risk-free account.

Rebalance any investments that you may have. Stocks and bonds have had an overall good year, though cash yields are near zero. Look at your portfolio and make sure that you don't need to move anything around so that you are earning more money. You should be doing this every year to help your portfolio.

Mutual Funds

Don't invest in long-term bond mutual funds. If you need the steady income from bonds, it's better to buy the actual bond or find a substitute like bank CD's. Mutual funds can be an excellent way to invest in stocks, but because all mutual funds are priced daily, funds that invest mostly in longer-term bonds can lose money quickly if interest rates rise.

Diversify your investments using mutual funds. It's difficult and expensive for a small investor to create a diversified portfolio using individual securities, but a no-load mutual fund can provide instant diversification at low cost. You can invest as little as $1000 in a fund that holds anywhere from 20 to several hundred securities, for an annual fee as low as 1%. Diversification helps to lower investment risk by reducing dependence on any one security to provide a favorable return.

As this article has discussed, personal financial management can be a difficult task but is much easier when the right advice and suggestions are followed. Although some lack the discipline to manage their finances properly, some suggestions can help all people manage their finances more effectively. Use this article's advice and be on your way to greater financial independence.




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