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Personal finance is the financial management which an individual or a family unit performs to budget, save, and spend monetary resources over time, taking into account various financial risks and future life events.
When planning personal finances, the individual would consider the suitability to his or her needs of a range of banking products (checking, savings accounts, credit cards and consumer loans) or investment private equity, (stock market, bonds, mutual funds) and insurance (life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance) products or participation and monitoring of and- or employer-sponsored retirement plans, social security benefits, and income tax management.
Before a specialty in personal finance was developed, various disciplines which are closely related to it, such as family economics, and consumer economics were taught in various colleges as part of home economics for over 100 years.
The earliest known research in personal finance was done in 1920 by Hazel Kyrk. Her dissertation at University of Chicago laid the foundation of consumer economics and family economics.Margaret Reid, a professor of Home Economics at the same university, is recognized as one of the pioneers in the study of consumer behavior and Household behavior.
In 1947, Herbert A. Simon, a Nobel laureate, suggested that a decision maker did not always make the best financial decision because of limited educational resources and personal inclinations.In 2009, Dan Ariely suggested the 2008 financial crisis showed that human beings do not always make rational financial decisions, and the market is not necessarily self-regulating and corrective of any imbalances in the economy.
Therefore, personal finance education is needed to help an individual or a family make rational financial decisions throughout their life. Before 1990, mainstream economists and business faculty paid little attention to personal finance. However, several American universities such as Brigham Young University, Iowa State University, and San Francisco State University have started to offer financial educational programmes in both undergraduate and graduate programmes in the last 30 years. These institutions have published several works in journals such as The Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning and the Journal of Personal Finance. Research into personal finance is based on several theories such as social exchange theory and andragogy (adult learning theory). Professional bodies such as American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and American Council on Consumer Interests started to play an important role in the development of this field from the 1950s to 1970s. The establishment of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE) in 1984 at Iowa State University and the Academy of Financial Services (AFS) in 1985 marked an important milestone in personal finance history. Attendances of the two societies mainly come from faculty and graduates from business and home economics colleges. AFCPE has since offered several certifications for professionals in this field such as Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) and Certified Housing Counselors (CHC). Meanwhile, AFS cooperates with Certified Financial Planner (CFP Board).
As the concerns about consumers' financial capability have increased in recent years, a variety of education programs has emerged, catering to a broad audience or to a specific group of people such as youth and women. The educational programs are frequently known as "financial literacy". However, there was no standardized curriculum for personal finance education until after the 2008 financial crisis. The United States President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability was set up in 2008 in order to encourage financial literacy among the American people. It also stressed the importance of developing a standard in the field of financial education.
The key component of personal finance is financial planning, which is a dynamic process that requires regular monitoring and re-evaluation. In general, it involves five steps:
Typical goals that most adults and young adults have are paying off credit card/student loan/housing/car loan debt, investing for retirement, investing for college costs for children, paying medical expenses.
Need for Personal Finance
There is a great need for people to understand and take control of their personal finances. These are some of the overarching reasons for it;
1. No formal education for personal finance: Most countries have a formal education across most disciplines or areas of study.
This illustrates the need to learn personal finance from an early stage,in order to differentiate between needs vs. wants and plan accordingly.
2. Shortened employable age: Over the years, with the advent of automationand changing needs; it has been witnessed across the globe that several jobs that require manual intervention, or that are mechanical in nature are increasingly becoming redundant.
These are some of the reasons why individuals should start planning for their retirement and systematically build on their retirement corpus,hence the need for personal finance.
3. Increased life expectancy:With the developments in healthcare, people today are living till a much older age than their forefathers. The average life expectancy have changed over the years and people even in developing economies are living much longer. The average life expectancy has gradually shifted from 60 to 81 and upwards. Increased life expectancy coupled with a shorter employable age reinforces the need of having a large enough retirement corpus and the importance of personal finance.
4. Rising medical expenses:Medical expenses including cost of drugs, hospital admission care and charges, nursing care, specialized care, geriatric care have all seen an exponential rise over the years. Many of these medical expenses are not covered through the insurance policies that might either be private/individual insurance coverage or through federal or national insurance coverage.
These reasons illustrate the need of having medical, accidental, critical illness, life coverage insurance for oneself and ones family as well as the need for emergency corpus;translating the immense need for personal finance.
Personal circumstances differ considerably, with respect to patterns of income, wealth, and consumption needs. Tax and finance laws also differ from country to country, and market conditions vary geographically and over time. This means that advice appropriate for one person might not be appropriate for another. A financial advisor can offer personalized advice in complicated situations and for high-wealth individuals, but University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack and personal finance writer Helaine Olen argue that in the United States good personal finance advice boils down to a few simple points:
The limits stated by laws may be different in each country; in any case personal finance should not disregard correct behavioral principles: people should not develop attachment to the idea of money, morally reprehensible, and, when investing, should maintain the medium-long term horizon avoiding hazards in the expected return of investment.
Key areas of personal financial planning, as suggested by the Financial Planning Standards Board, are:
According to a survey done by Harris Interactive, 99% of the adults agreed that personal finance should be taught in schools.Financial authorities and the American federal government had offered free educational materials online to the public. However, according to a Bank of America poll, 42% of adults were discouraged while 28% of adults thought that personal finance is a difficult subject because of vast amount of information available online. As of 2015, 17 out of 50 states in the United States requires high school students to study personal finance before graduation. The effectiveness of financial education on general audience is controversial. For example, a study done by Bell, Gorin and Hogarth (2009) stated that those who undergo financial education were more likely to use a formal spending plan. Financially educated high school students are more likely to have a savings account with regular savings, fewer overdrafts and more likely to pay off their credit card balances. However, another study was done by Cole and Shastry (Harvard Business School, 2009) found that there were no differences in saving behaviours of people in American states with financial literacy mandate enforced and the states without a literacy mandate.
Kiplinger publishes magazines on personal finance.
Finance is the study of money and how it is used. Specifically, it deals with the questions of how an individual, company or government acquires the money needed - called capital in the company context - and how they then spend or invest that money. Finance is, correspondingly, often split into three areas: personal finance, corporate finance and public finance.
A pension is a fund into which a sum of money is added during an employee's employment years and from which payments are drawn to support the person's retirement from work in the form of periodic payments. A pension may be a "defined benefit plan", where a fixed sum is paid regularly to a person, or a "defined contribution plan", under which a fixed sum is invested that then becomes available at retirement age. Pensions should not be confused with severance pay; the former is usually paid in regular installments for life after retirement, while the latter is typically paid as a fixed amount after involuntary termination of employment prior to retirement.
Saving is income not spent, or deferred consumption. Methods of saving include putting money aside in, for example, a deposit account, a pension account, an investment fund, or as cash. Saving also involves reducing expenditures, such as recurring costs. In terms of personal finance, saving generally specifies low-risk preservation of money, as in a deposit account, versus investment, wherein risk is a lot higher; in economics more broadly, it refers to any income not used for immediate consumption. Saving does not automatically include interest.
A registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), or retirement savings plan (RSP), is a type of financial account in Canada for holding savings and investment assets. RRSPs have various tax advantages compared to investing outside of tax-preferred accounts. They were introduced in 1957 to promote savings for retirement by employees and self-employed people.
A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged investment vehicle in the U.S. designed to encourage saving for the future higher education expenses of a designated beneficiary. In 2017, K–12 public, private, and religious school tuition were included as qualified expenses for 529 plans along with post-secondary education costs with passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Tax advantage refers to the economic bonus which applies to certain accounts or investments that are, by statute, tax-reduced, tax-deferred, or tax-free. Governments establish the tax advantages to encourage private individuals to contribute money when it is considered to be in the public interest.
A private pension is a plan into which individuals contribute from their earnings, which then will pay them a private pension after retirement. It is an alternative to the state pension. Usually individuals invest funds into saving schemes or mutual funds, run by insurance companies. Often private pensions are also run by the employer and are called occupational pensions. The contributions into private pension schemes are usually tax-deductible. This is similar to the regular pension.
Financial literacy is the possession of the set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources. Raising interest in personal finance is now a focus of state-run programs in countries including Australia, Canada, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom. Understanding basic financial concepts allows people to know how to navigate in the financial system. People with appropriate financial literacy training make better financial decisions and manage money better that those without such training.
Real estate investing involves the purchase, ownership, management, rental and/or sale of real estate for profit. Improvement of realty property as part of a real estate investment strategy is generally considered to be a sub-specialty of real estate investing called real estate development. Real estate is an asset form with limited liquidity relative to other investments, it is also capital intensive and is highly cash flow dependent. If these factors are not well understood and managed by the investor, real estate becomes a risky investment.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to finance:
The financial management advisor (FMA) is a professional designation of the Canadian Securities Institute (CSI), the official educator of the Canadian securities industry. The FMA is a personal financial planning designation which is usually a precursor to the certified financial planner (CFP) designation. There are over three thousand FMA holders in Canada. The FMA designation is not recognized in the province of Quebec.
A life annuity is an annuity, or series of payments at fixed intervals, paid while the purchaser is alive. A life annuity is an insurance product typically sold or issued by life insurance companies.
Asset location (AL) is a term used in personal finance to refer to how investors distribute their investments across savings vehicles including taxable accounts, tax-exempt accounts, tax-deferred accounts, trust accounts, variable life insurance policies, foundations, and onshore vs. offshore accounts.
A tax-free savings account is an account available in Canada that provides tax benefits for saving. Investment income, including capital gains and dividends, earned in a TFSA is not taxed in most cases, even when withdrawn. Contributions to a TFSA are not deductible for income tax purposes, unlike contributions to a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP).
Moshe Arye Milevsky is a Professor of Finance at the Schulich School of Business at York University, Toronto, Canada, where he has been based and teaching for over 25 years. He earned a B.A. in Mathematics and Physics from Yeshiva University in 1990, an M.A. in Mathematics and Statistics from York University in 1992 and a Ph.D in Business Finance from York University in 1996.
At retirement, individuals stop working and no longer get employment earnings, and enter a phase of their lives, where they rely on the assets they have accumulated, to supply money for their spending needs for the rest of their lives. Retirement spend-down, or withdrawal rate, is the strategy a retiree follows to spend, decumulate or withdraw assets during retirement.
Goal Based Investing or Goal Driven Investing is an investment methodology where performance is measured by the success of investments in meeting an individual's personal and lifestyle goals. This differs from conventional investing methodologies, where financial performance is defined as a return against an investment benchmark. This approach results in focus of the investment approach shifting from achieving a higher returns approach to the investment, or exceeding the market returns approach to funding a personal financial goals approach.
The Institute of Business and Finance (IBF) is a financial training institute providing online financial and educational materials, certification programs and support to the financial community and general public.
Dedicated portfolio theory, in finance, deals with the characteristics and features of a portfolio built to generate a predictable stream of future cash inflows. This is achieved by purchasing bonds and/or other fixed income securities that can and usually are held to maturity to generate this predictable stream from the coupon interest and/or the repayment of the face value of each bond when it matures. The goal is for the stream of cash inflows to exactly match the timing of a predictable stream of cash outflows due to future liabilities. For this reason it is sometimes called cash matching, or liability-driven investing. Determining the least expensive collection of bonds in the right quantities with the right maturities to match the cash flows is an analytical challenge that requires some degree of mathematical sophistication. College level textbooks typically cover the idea of “dedicated portfolios” or “dedicated bond portfolios” in their chapters devoted to the uses of fixed income securities.
Property investment calculator is a term used to define an application that provides fundamental financial analysis underpinning the purchase, ownership, management, rental and/or sale of real estate for profit. Property Investment Calculators are typically driven by mathematical finance models and converted into source code. Key concepts that drive property investment calculators include returns, cash flow, affordability of financing, investment strategy, equity and risk management.