This is a guest post by Miha Slekovec, an avid user of Toshl Finance and an explorer of financial self-improvement.
Let’s take a step back and look at a bigger picture of the personal finance world. It can be much more than just keeping track of your monthly expenses. If done the right way, it can lead to the personal freedom many people are craving for – financial independence. Personal finance need not be just a monthly choir, or a task. It can be the first step on a ladder which leads to financial independence. The ladder has five steps and it starts with budgeting. Good budgeting leads to creating savings, which can then be invested. With a correct investment strategy you can create assets, and with enough assets you can reach your financial freedom. For details take a look at the picture below. Start at the bottom.
The beauty of the system is that you can step up and down the ladder according to your financial goals. The solid foundation is keeping your monthly finances in order. Without that you cannot search for possible savings in your spending. Monthly budgeting lets you identify the weakest points of your monthly money flow and it shows you what needs to be improved. These improvements lead to (extra) savings, which you can then use in whichever way you want. Maybe you want to save for that great vacation you wanted to go on for years? Or maybe you want to put the money on the side for that dream home you want to buy in the future? Maybe you want to invest it?
Here we are entering a new territory. In sports terms, budgeting/saving is playing defence, while investing is playing offence. There are many ways to score, but you must know what you are doing, especially in the long run. But don’t despair, there are many ways to invest and many sources to learn about investing. Just remember some basic rules: invest in only what you know, be prepared to lose your money, and don’t be greedy.
Be careful where you invest, as different countries have very different tax codes and regulations about investing. What is possible in the USA, is not necessarily possible in Germany. And the possibilities of investment in France differ from those in Japan. Make a study of what you can do in your country. A good general resource to start is JL Collins: The Simple Path to Wealth. The book offers good insight into the stock market for first time investors and helps you avoid some of the common rookie mistakes. For a few alternative resources try books by Jack Bogle or Benjamin Graham.
The most important question is – what do you want to achieve with your finances? Where do you want to enter and where leave the ladder?