Thought you had enough with just a checking and savings account? Got your tax account set up and think your financial picture is complete? Hold your horses, because there are a few more types of financial accounts you might want to consider. These accounts may not be as basic as the ones mentioned above, but they may still play a role in diversifying your portfolio, gaining interest, building good credit, and being prepared for any financial "bumps in the road".
1. Retirement Fund
As soon as you get your first job, think about what kind of retirement you hope for, and make sure your money's being saved up from the start - this is one of the key tactics in building an income for retirement. Wherever in the world you work, whether you call them superannuation co-contributions or individual retirement account (IRA) top-ups, consider adding extra money to your retirement savings whenever you can. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that saving for retirement is something only older people do; the sooner you start adding to your retirement savings the better.
If you have an employer contributing to your fund, there is no reason not to make the most of it. For those of you who are self-employed, don’t assume that the rest of this advice doesn’t apply to you. You can easily set up an account with a bank or other financial institution to save for your retirement. No one wants to find themselves without enough income to live on when they stop working.
2. Emergency Fund
Ever heard someone say “I’m saving my money for a rainy day”? Well they’ve got the right idea. Financial planners have said time and time again that almost everyone should have an emergency fund of some kind. This fund should be used when serious unexpected financial hurdles arise, like losing your job. They can also be used for smaller emergencies so that you don’t have to put things on credit, like a car repair.
The ideal amount a person should set aside in an emergency fun will vary from one individual to another, but most people would have a great deal of peace of mind if they knew they had saved anywhere from six to eight months of living expenses to cover any emergencies. This gives you a fairly large window of time to financially recover if you suddenly find yourself without work or needing to replace some money you took out for an unexpected expense.
3. Investment Brokerage
Investing is a way to try and use the money you already have to earn even more money - and I’m not talking about complicated formulas, day trading, or trying to guess what the market is going to do next. Simple, sensible investing is not for making a quick buck. On the contrary, investing can be seen as a long term commitment whose financial benefits may ride out short term market changes and may provide higher returns than most regular savings accounts.
With some research and patience, you can build an investment portfolio that is ready for the long haul. The internet is full of wonderful resources for first time investors and there are many excellent books available on the basics of investing.
There is nothing wrong with having a credit card, if you use it sensibly. Building credit is an important part of the financial picture because it determines whether or not you are eligible for loans and big purchases, like a mortgage. If you keep a credit card, try to pay it off in full every month if you can. If you are responsible with your plastic it will open up a world of financial opportunities that may not have been available to you otherwise.
Taking steps toward fiscal responsibility is an important factor in determining the security of your finances. While you may not have the means yet for opening a retirement fund or investment brokerage account, keep them in mind and start saving for them. Likewise, if you find yourself with some credit issues, resolve them before mounting on any more debt. Deciding to open some of the above accounts may help you on the road to greater financial security.
This article is by Amanda Abella, who shares useful tips on superannuation and other personal finance matters across a wide range of websites and blogs.