5 Personal Finance Lessons You Can't Afford to Skip



Now is always the right time to learn about your finances.

There's more to financial planning than paying bills on time and keeping your checking account in the black. If you want more out of what you earn, you need more than just the basics.

Financial wisdom could fill volumes, but there are a few lesser-known tidbits that can make a real difference between the budget you've got now, and the one you'd like to have.

Here are 5 tips that can help transform your budget from functional to impressive:

Patience is a Virtue

Getting rich quick rarely happens; it's slow and steady that wins the race. Lower-yield investments are safer, even if they don't make you wealthy overnight. These are a logical investment choice for at least part of your portfolio at any stage of life.

When you're younger, risk taking isn't as dangerous as when you're closer to retirement. In your 20s and 30s, you can afford the risk of higher yield investments because there's still plenty of time until retirement to make up for losses. In your 40s, start thinking about a gradual switch to safer investments, even though they usually come with lower returns.

Two Heads are Better than One

Family budgets come with compromise, or at least they should. CNN Money says your spouse or significant other should have a say in budget plans. What might surprise you is the idea of also including children. Kids don't need to know all the details of your finances. But consider their opinions in budget decisions that will affect them, such as college savings.

The Line between Needs and Wants Sometimes Gets Blurred

Do you need that new vehicle, or do you just want it? Wants and needs can become muddled, so take a step back and evaluate before making a purchase. If your vehicle is out of warranty and you hear a scary sounding clunk each time you change gears, a new car might be in order. The repairs on an older car can cost you in time and money. But if the shiny red convertible makes your heart skip a beat while your own car is in perfectly fine condition, it's probably smarter to wait and save for a sizable downpayment before making a purchase.

There's a Lot More to Taxes than Filing a 1040 Each Year

You can file your taxes each year and stay within the rule of IRS law, but what you don't know about taxes might hurt you. Some people eagerly await tax season and a nice refund check. Unfortunately, that refund check means you happily gave the government an interest-free loan, which they only paid back when you filed your return. Adjusting withholdings for a lower refund means more money in your pocket throughout the year. And that money could be earning interest for you instead of benefitting the government until you claim it. Learn everything you can about your taxes, and see how much you could save.

A financial planner can help you find what's right for you.

Financial Planners Aren't Just for the Wealthy

There's no shame in not having a head for finance. A financial planner can help put you on a better path, and teach you budgeting tips that you never new existed. You don't have to keep an accountant on retainer. A few sessions with a planner can arm you with enough knowledge to get you started. Budgeting software such as Mint.com products help, too. You can import each account and keep track of everything from income and spending to savings and investments, all on your home computer or mobile device. In a way, Mint.com is like a financial planner on call 24/7.

The more you know, the better your budget can be. With a few tweaks and a new set of budgeting software tools, your future is more secure than ever.

Sign up for your free Mint.com account today.