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Financial Planning

Putting it all together

Have a financial plan that includes:

  • Your financial goals. Why do you want to invest? Are you saving for a home, education, or comfortable retirement?
  • Your current financial status, including your assets and liabilities. Examples of assets are income, bank accounts, retirement plans such as a 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA), annuities, life insurance, etc.
  • Liabilities include your home mortgage balance, any outstanding debt, etc.
  • Your risk tolerance.
  • Financial measurements – how will you know when you have accomplished your goals?
  • An emergency fund. Before you invest, make sure you set aside money for emergencies such as possible unemployment or car or appliance repair or replacement.

Publication: Get the Facts: The SEC's Roadmap to Saving and Investing

Do-it-yourself investing

If you feel confident in investing on your own, do your research. Understand the stock market and the many investment products available. Talk to those you trust who invest on their own. Read reputable national financial publications either in print or online.


Investing on your own – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Choosing Investments – Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

Advanced Investing - Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

Working with a financial professional

Financial professionals who help you with your investments fall into three categories: broker/dealers, investment advisers, and financial planners. An individual professional can hold any of these three credentials, among others. This chart will help you decide whom to work with.

Saving Money – Helpful Tips and Budget Calculators

Calculators, budgeting worksheets, and checklists

Make a Budget (PDF)
A fillable PDF from the Federal Trade Commission

How to Plan a Personal Budget
Tips from eHow

Yes, You Need an Emergency Fund (PDF)
Eight great tips to start an emergency fund

Direct Deposit – How it works
Helpful information from bankrate.com on direct depositing your paycheck

Go Direct – Federal benefits switch to electronic payments March 1
Get information on the required switch from paper checks to electronic payments (Social Security, Veterans Affairs, and other federal benefits)


Retirement Planner from the Social Security Administration

Confidently Planning for Your Retirement
Information from the North American Securities Administrators Association

Women and Retirement Savings
Questions and answers from the U.S. Department of Labor

Smart Investing: Retirement
Resources for employers and employees