Estimating what your estate would be worth if something happened to you is the only way to judge whether you should be making estate plans:
To get started consider the following major elements of your estate:
- Real estate
- Personal property (cars, furniture, electronics, art)
- Value of any retirement plans (including IRA’s)
- Bank accounts
- Life Insurance policies you own
- Stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities
Understanding what you are worth and what you own is a crucial step in planning for your future.
Most people believe that any debt is detrimental to their financial health. However, some types of debt aren’t bad – a mortgage, college loans, or business loans. These types of loans appreciate in value in your future. Bad debt is money that you owe for things that you no longer benefit from; try to eliminate these debts.
There are ways to change your financial situation. Use a spending chart to record how you are using your money. Write down everything you spend and where your money goes to. To reduce debt, look at your nonessential expenses and decide which ones you can remove. Limiting the way you use your credit card can help with your spending.
You can avoid the legal consequences of bad debt by resolving your debt before it becomes overwhelming. Start planning now. Repaying the debts you have accrued will not happen overnight. However, if you control your spending and attain professional help, you will resolve your financial problems over time.
(Morris, A Woman’s Guide to Personal Finance)