For most, the world of finance is elusive and difficult to understand. However, it is not something that should be ignored. Most people will deal with an assortment of financial issues throughout their lives, and finding the right information at the right time can be a difficult task. Every stage of life brings new financial challenges, like applying for a student loan, buying a new home or saving for retirement. Read on to learn about all the options available on the road to financial wellness.

Credit and Debt Understanding credit and how it works is important for anyone who handles his or her own finances. Financing most of life’s major purchases require a good credit score. Purchasing a new car or a home, for example, typically requires applying for a loan through a financial institution. The different kinds of loans that are available are categorized into two groups: secured and unsecured loans. Secured loans require collateral, while an unsecured loan does not. Certain loans may fall under either category, depending on the term of the specific loan.

Credit is also needed to pay for everyday purchases with a credit card. Credit cards can make purchasing items online or when cash is not on hand simple, but they can also make it easy to fall into debt. Knowing your financial needs and how to choose a credit card that suits those needs is important for managing personal finances and staying out of debt.

Most Americans have or will have some sort of debt in their lifetime. While debt is normal, it can become difficult to manage and become too overwhelming to get out of. Those who need help managing their debt have a variety of debt relief solutions available to them. However, not all solutions are beneficial and can cause damaged credit or further debt. Credit counseling is a good option for those considering taking large financial steps, such as applying for a mortgage loan or declaring bankruptcy. Using a credit counseling services can also help those with consumer debts they are unable to pay off.

Financial Planning

Financial goals seem unachievable to most, especially to those who are in debt and see no way out. Whether the goals are short or long-term, financial plans provide a road map with the steps needed to achieve those goals. There are several aspects to financial planning, but the first step for most plans is budgeting and saving money. Budgets are the key to financial success, since they help ensure that money is being spent wisely. Creating a budget helps to save money that can be used to fund financial goals, like paying off outstanding debts or starting a retirement account.

Financial plans can be made through do-it-yourself methods, but it is best to work with the right financial planner. A certified planner advises clients on the best financial strategies for their specific situation and helps create a plan that works for those clients. Finding out more about financial planners before requesting their services is crucial to getting the right advice, since there are many uncertified financial planners out there. It is important to know what to look for in a financial planner, especially whether or not he or she is certified. Some planners charge for their services in ways that may not be convenient for a client’s particular situation, and some may offer biased opinions if they make commissions off products they sell to clients.

Planning for Retirement Retirement planning can be an intimidating and daunting task for anyone, but it is not something that can be put off until later in life. Preparing and saving for retirement takes quite a bit of time. It is best to start the planning process early in a career, but there are planning options available for those who begin the process late in their careers. Knowing when and how to plan for retirement guarantees a better chance at avoiding financial hardships once it comes time to retire.

Those who have retired or are getting ready to retire also have some preparations and considerations to make. Saving money before retirement does not guarantee retirees a monthly pension. However, there are ways to use those savings to guarantee that a pension check every month can cover the cost of living while you are retired. Annuities are a great way to turn savings into income for the duration of retirement. There are two annuity options available, differing in terms, such as when pension payouts begin. Some annuities begin paying out immediately, while others have deferred payments. Retirement looks different for everyone, so it is important to make sure that savings and any accrued earnings on those savings will be enough to cover the retirement lifestyle you choose, regardless of whether you will retire stateside or retire abroad.

Money Saving Resources

Reaching financial wellness is often made easier through the use of money saving resources. There are resources for everything, from apps that help you budget and track your finances to websites that help you find the best deals online. Budgeting and planning your finances is easier than ever. Finance Tracking Apps such as Mint and Acorns allow you to create a budget, track spending, make payments and even investments, all from your mobile phone. Many of these apps are free, though some do have premium features available for a fee, and most are available on both Android and iOS.

Those who like to save money on their everyday purchases also have some resources available to them. Coupon clipping is a popular way to save money on groceries and household purchases, and it is now easier than ever. Saving newspaper inserts and coupon booklets is a thing of the past. Mobile apps like Coupon iQ and Coupon Sherpa make couponing easy and paper-free. Other apps, like Ibotta and Ebates, offer savings in the form of rebates and cash back deals on both online and in-store purchases. Most money saving apps are available free of cost, and some offer cash savings through checks and gift cards.