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The primary goal of financial planning is to avoid a financial crisis and save for retirement.
Saving for retirement:
Pensions are going away. Social Security will run out in 2033 if something isn't done. See (see Social Security funding on the savings page)
The take away here is to understand the value of compounding and starting early.
Avoiding a Financial Crisis - Living Frugally
Create a budget:
How your budget is allocated depends on your age, family situation and income.
Create an emergency fund
Most people It should be 3-6 months of your expenses (More or less depending on your employment stability). e.g. if your expenses are $5,000/mo you should have $15-$30,000 in your emergency fund.
Emergencies are things like loosing a job, medical or dental expenses, break downs (car, Air Conditioning, appliances, computer, ...), travel for a family funeral, a tree falls on your house, ....
Some typical costs (very rough gestimate): Item When Cost Auto timing belt/chain 100,000 mi $300-$1,000 Auto CV boot 50-60,000 $150-$600 Household appliances 10-15 yrs $250-$700 Refrig. $350-$2,000 Air Conditioner 12-15 yrs $5,000 Furnace 15-20 yrs $4,000 Asphalt Shingles 20-25 yrs $12,000 Dental crown $800 - $1,400 Dental Implant $2,000 - $6,000 Root Canal $1,000+ Average Life Span of Homes, Appliances, and MechanicalsIt is important to keep this emergency fund in a place that will fairly liquid so that you can get to the money quickly in the event of an emergency. You don’t want to have this money tied into stocks or mutual funds because the volatility of the market could cause you to lose money over the short-term.
Start with a savings account, then move to something that will give you a little more interest, money market accounts or certificate of deposits (CDs).
See Why You Need an Emergency Fund | FinancialPlan.about.com
Avoid Credit Card Debt
Other things I want to add to this page.
People - Gurus:
QUANTEXT Portfolio Planner
Financial Software and Online Wealth Management from Personal Capital
You Can Do It! The Boomer's Guide to a Great Retirement, Jonathan Pond, 2007