Understanding your finances can be complex and overwhelming. There are many different types of accounts, products, and strategies you can use to reach your financial goals, but the key is to understand how to use them correctly. Below, UMB bankers share the top five personal finance concepts they wish they’d known more about before they started managing their own money.

Budget first

Building a budget based on your personal finances is the first step to understanding your money. Your budget can show you how much you can save and invest every month along with how much you have to spend on your living expenses, hobbies and entertainment. Reviewing your budget monthly can also show you areas where you can cut back or spend more.

Establish your savings accounts early

Starting a savings account is a great way to reach your larger financial goals. First, it is recommended your savings account have enough funds to cover three to six months of expenses in case you become unemployed or need money to cover an unexpected expense like a medical or car repair bill. Refer to your budget to make sure you have a clear understanding of all your expenses.

After that goal is achieved, additional money can be set aside to fund a longer-term goal such as purchasing a car, funding a house down payment, or other large expenses like a vacation.

Health savings accounts can be used as an investment strategy

If your employer offers a high deductible medical plan and you decide to enroll, consider opening a health savings account (HSA). An HSA is a tax-advantaged1 account you can use to pay for qualified medical expenses, long-term care expenses, or invest and save for health care needs in retirement. These accounts have a triple tax advantage1, meaning you can contribute pre-tax1, your money grows free of taxes, and when you take the money out, you aren’t taxed on your gains.

It is never too early to save for retirement

Depending on where you are in life, retirement might seem like a far away goal, but life moves fast, and it is never too early to start saving for your future. It is recommended that you put your retirement savings first – this includes prioritizing it above saving for a larger purchase or your child’s education.

A common standard for post-retirement income is 70% of the annual salary you made while in the workforce. There are several different accounts you can use for your retirement savings like a 401(k), Roth or traditional individual retirement accounts, or as mentioned above, your health savings account.

Talk with a financial advisor

Even if you are diligently keeping track of your budget and savings, it can be overwhelming to manage your finances. A financial advisor can help you reach your financial goals by explaining different products and strategies to you that will meet your needs. Never be afraid to call your advisor and ask a question about your finances.

Your financial advisor can help you establish all the pieces to your personal financial puzzle, so use their knowledge to your advantage. And remember your financial journey is a marathon not a sprint. Every small step helps!

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1All mention of taxes is made in reference to federal tax law. States can choose to follow the federal tax-treatment guidelines for HSAs or establish their own; some states tax HSA contributions. Please check with each state’s tax laws to determine the tax treatment of HSA contributions or consult your tax adviser. Neither UMB Bank n.a., nor its parent, subsidiaries, or affiliates are engaged in rendering tax or legal advice. Withdrawals for non-qualified expenses are subject to income taxes and a possible additional 20% penalty, if you’re under age 65.