The recent financial crisis has caused me to take a very hard look at our family’s investments. How much are we spending? Are our assets diversified? Where do the retirement accounts stand? I could have hired a financial planner and relied exclusively on her advice, but this is my family’s future, so I determined the better path would be for me to become more knowledgeable and proactive in this area before doing so.
The first step was to determine how much we really spend in a month. I always had a rough idea by adding up the big expenses, but where do the little spends of $40 and $25 go? I used online personal finance site mint.com to do this. It was pretty easy and gave me an accurate (and illuminating) picture.
Then I moved to the harder step -- our investments. There is so much information out there – on the web, in the newspapers, on the radio, from the banks/financial firms. How do you make sense of it all? I joined with a couple of partners and we built an online financial planning community (www.margravegroup.com). Our premise is that, through interactive discussions and tools that allow you to anonymously compare and collaborate on your investment strategies with your financial peers (or those maybe a step ahead of you), you can become more knowledgeable and confident in your own investment planning.
I think social networking sites, especially ones with a particular focus, bring a few things to the table. Discussion between motivated and knowledgeable people can generate great new thoughts and revelations. Learning from other people’s actual successes/missteps is more helpful than just reading a theoretical research article. There is also the therapeutic aspect of understanding that we are not alone with our financial concerns.
I would enjoy hearing from others regarding how you approach financial and investment planning in these tumultuous economic times. Are using any online tools to help you survive the financial down-turn?