Ready to Boost Your Financial IQ? Simple Ways to Find the Fun in Finance
You made a resolution: this was the year you were going to bump-up your financial IQ. But the wealth of information out there can often be tough to wade through. Where do you begin on your quest to expand your financial knowledge?
Depending on your specific situation, it may make more sense to start small and then look for ways to have fun so that your financial savvy is an ongoing quest, not a time-siphoning burden. The tips and tools below will help you begin.
Know Your Net Worth
Mapping out your net worth is one of the easiest ways to kick start your financial IQ. Whether you're facing down student loans or other debt, or you have modest savings in the bank, your net worth is a powerful bit of knowledge to help you craft a financial plan.
Tracking your assets and liabilities will help you track your overall net worth. It will also help you see how your other financial habits impact your net worth over time. Bankrate has a handy calculator to help.
Make an Estate Plan
You might think that you don't have enough assets to need a will, much less an estate plan, and you're not alone. A 2017 study by Caring.com found that six in 10 Americans don't have critical estate planning documents like a will or living trust. You might not want to think about death but making an estate plan, so matter how simple, can help bring peace of mind to your family and your finances.
There are plenty of low-cost and free online resources — such as Willing, JoinCake, and FreeWill — that make creating a basic, state-specific estate plan a breeze. Several sites include additional documents like a Living Will to designate a person to make medical decisions if you're unable, and Durable Power of Attorney to name a person to make financial decisions.
While these sites don't replace the advice of an estate planning professional, they can help you take the first step to create a simple estate plan at low- to no cost.
Grab a Book
If curling up with a book on your lunch break or in the evening is your brand of enjoyment, your financial joy could be at your local library. Check out the top personal finance books recommended by New York Magazine. From general knowledge to specific advice geared toward millennials and women, you can fine-tune your money-related reading based on the areas you want to explore the most.
Why the library? You'll save money by checking out books for free, and you'll have to read the books you check out on a deadline. Nothing like a deadline to get you turning the pages.
If your commute time is more conducive to tuning in than turning pages, maybe a podcast is the key to broadening your financial knowledge. Here is a list of 16 personal finance podcasts to help get you started. Both lists are broken down by subject area so you can easily choose what sounds most interesting. Format, hosts, and personalities differ so give a few different podcasts a try to find your must-listen shows.
Download an App
From budgeting to expense tracking and investing, the right app could be just the thing to help you gain a clear picture of your finances on hand. Check out this list of apps for the financially curious who find their fun in technology.
Many financial apps connect directly to your online banking and credit card accounts to help track your spending. You won't be entering manual data, but you will have to trust the apps you choose to access your personal finances. Don't forget to read the app reviews to help you find the ideal app.
Meet with a Financial Advisor
If you thrive on personal connection and conversation, consider setting up a time to meet with an advisor to help power your financial education. Whether it's a CPA or a financial advisor, a sit-down meeting or even a phone consultation, determine which would be best to help grow your knowledge. These professionals can help you learn about investment tools and planning strategies to help bring your financial dreams into focus.
Realize What You Can Control
With market fluctuations, job changes, trips to the emergency room, and life's other surprises, one sure-fire way to up your financial IQ is to remember that you can't control everything.
The tools above put powerful financial resources within arm's reach, and the key to any sound financial strategy is to begin somewhere. With your net worth in hand, you can decide where to take the next step.