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How much should I save to reach my goal?

What are you saving for: a computer, car, boat, summer home, down payment? Use this calculator to determine what you need to save on a regular basis to have the funds ready when needed.

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5 Ways to Create a Budget That Works

In personal finance, you set financial goals so you can plan your budget around those goals. After all, they are your priorities, aren't they? Here is how financial planners work with budgets:

A budget has two main components: cash coming in (inflows) and cash going out (outflows). If you subtract the outflows from the inflows, the answer should always be zero. That is called balancing the budget.

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Credit 101

An important part of personal finance is how you manage your debt. Ideally, you would not have any debt, but in practice, most families do. It is not likely that most persons would be able to buy a car, a house, an education, or even major appliances without having to incur some debt. Sometimes, debt may actually be desirable, especially if you could borrow money at a low interest rate to make a high-interest investment.

Debt makes everything cost more. If you saw a sign in a store window advertising "Sale -- Everything 25% Off," you might be tempted to rush in and buy, buy, buy. But what if the sign said "Sale -- Everything 25% More Than Marked"? That is just what happens when you pay for goods and services using debt. Moreover, you may be using debt without even realizing it.

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Why Americans Don’t Save Money

Personal finance also helps you make better savings and investment decisions because it focuses on your goals. Your budget (or spending plan) should be built around your day-to-day expenses, including your short-range lifestyle and financial goals. These may include your goals for your family's well-being, shelter, food, clothing, and recreation. It should also provide for future personal lifestyle and financial goals as well.

Savings and investments should be used to match your short-, intermediate-, and long-range financial goals. You save and invest for a purpose, not just to accumulate great wealth. In fact, you save and invest for many purposes, and how you save and invest depend upon the purpose. For example, if you need to replace a household appliance costing a few hundred dollars in the next 12–18 months, you will save differently than you would if you were saving to pay for a child's education in 10–15 years. To make these decisions, you need to understand the relationship among investment risk, time horizon, and investment reward.

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Money Help Center

This information may help you analyze your financial needs. It is based on information and assumptions provided by you regarding your goals, expectations and financial situation. The calculations do not infer that the company assumes any fiduciary duties. The calculations provided should not be construed as financial, legal or tax advice. In addition, such information should not be relied upon as the only source of information. This information is supplied from sources we believe to be reliable but we cannot guarantee its accuracy. Hypothetical illustrations may provide historical or current performance information. Past performance does not guarantee nor indicate future results.