Financial planning has long been associated with the wealthy. But in reality, it can and should be accessible to everyone at an affordable cost. Regardless of your financial habits, everybody can benefit from a financial plan. Wouldn't it be comforting to know that you have a savings account, a retirement plan, can afford your monthly bills, and have some wiggle room for a vacation? Many people try to handle their finances on their own, but the vast majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and don't properly prepare for the unexpected. A financial planner can work with you to get organized. We believe that the best financial planner is one that sees your goals from a holistic point of view. A leading company, LearnVest, is on a mission is to change the way people feel about their money.

LearnVest is a different kind of financial planner that provides a customized, comprehensive plan with the ease and convenience of an online service. All for a fraction of the cost of a typical financial planner, LearnVest assigns you a LearnVest Planner or Investment Advisor Representative (FINRA Series 65) to take you through your custom-built plan, step-by-step, to help get on track within a realistic timeline.

When you sign up, your financial planner will schedule a call to discuss your goals, dreams, and hurdles. If you're too busy, they'll find time to work with you on weekends or after work hours, and are always available by email 24 hours a day. After your initial consultation, you will receive a comprehensive financial plan with a detailed budget, a snapshot of your current finances, and a strategy to move forward. This is the blueprint for achieving your goals. You agree on the path to move forward and LearnVest makes it easy to stick to it. Once your budget is established, the next step is to look at retirement, credit cards, and an emergency fund.

Retirement

Many people are confused when it comes to saving for retirement. The retirement section of your plan will set forth an action plan based on your current projected retirement salary and replacement ratio. LearnVest will recommend the best retirement account for you, whether it be a 401(k), Roth 401(k), or IRA. You will talk about what you need for your nest egg, and what to put away now to help you get there.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are a huge emotional burden. Getting out of a credit card debt cycle can sometimes feel never-ending. The planner will advise that you start by eliminating debt with the highest interest rate first, prioritizing paydown order, and telling you what to do each step of the way. You will also get a debt-free date to mark on your calendar!

Emergency Fund

The most critical part of your plan is an emergency fund because it helps keep you from going into debt. In case of an emergency, you typically want to avoid using your credit cards or withdrawing from your retirement fund. Usually, LearnVest recommends having 6 months of take home pay in the bank as a safety net. LearnVest will help you determine an appropriate amount of funds to build your emergency fund and help you budget to meet that number.

Everything Else

Your financial plan may also include information on next steps. Can you afford a mortgage? When will you be able to buy your dream house? You'll also get recommendations about insurance policies and documents such as a will, trust, and beneficiary forms based on your personal picture and goals. With your carefully calculated budget, you can check off items on your financial calendar, get reminders, and manage your progress from the program dashboard.

Along with your personalized financial plan, you'll get quarterly check ins from your financial planner. You'll also have access to a host of free tools including classes, events and articles that can give you tips to stay on your path to financial freedom.

While most people need some help with their finances, many are reluctant to get started. LearnVest's free tools are designed to help get your feet in the water, and their premium service will help you on your way to achieving your financial goals.

Update: Follow this link and learn how to get your customized financial plan for just $149 (originally $299).

*$150 credit can be applied to the set-up fee for The LearnVest Program. Offer subject to expire at any time without advance notice. Cannot be combined with other offers. Log in to redeem.

LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Please consult a financial adviser for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest, Inc. is wholly owned by NM Planning, LLC, a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.

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I thought I had a pretty good handle on my finances out of school. I worked several jobs while attending university and had little to no problem managing my income. However, once I graduated, I realized how much more complicated personal accounting could really be.

There were so many variables I needed to keep track of. Biweekly bills, monthly charges, and general necessities amounted to a heap of confusing numbers that were often impossible to decipher. The funniest part was that I was actually trying to do this by hand (I don't know what I was trying to prove to myself, either).

After messing up for the 17th time, I decided to give Microsoft Excel a shot. I used Excel a bit in school and I knew all the big-wig finance people used it, so what could I possibly have to lose? The answer is about six hours of my precious time. Excel isn't much of an improvement over handwriting and it's still dependent on the user to manually input all of the information. It's like doing everything by hand with the slightest help, meaning that it still required a tremendous amount of time and concentration. Well that was all for nothing, I guess.

It's sort of funny. I was certain that I could manage my personal finances with ease, when it's practically a full-time job. I was already stressed out enough with my first job and I knew I didn't have enough time to give my finances the attention it deserved.

That's why I decided to try out a budgeting app. My best friend told me that he uses an app called Truebill to manage his finances. "What does it even mean to manage your finances?" I asked him. He told me that Truebill was the personal financial assistant I wished I could have. It could aggregate all of my account information into one place and give me specific insights and actions.

I loved the idea of having full control over my finances, especially during a time of financial uncertainty, and I realized that Truebill would be the easiest way to accomplish this. The user interface is incredibly simple and intuitive, so it doesn't even feel like a finance app! Truebill offers a multitude of features, with their most popular being the ability to cancel subscriptions with the press of a button.

Okay, I had no idea how many subscriptions I was still subscribed to. In fact, I wasn't even using a quarter of the subscription services I was signed up for. Subscription boxes, streaming services, my old gym, and even an old subscription to my favorite magazine--it was all there and I was livid. How could I let myself waste all of this money and how did I never catch this? Thank goodness for Truebill.

Truebill also offers bill negotiations. There is a 40% fee based on how much you save and Truebill even claims that there is an 85% chance that they'll be able to lower your bill once a negotiation is requested. Why wouldn't I take them up on this? There was zero risk and I would only have to pay once my bill was lowered (which means that I would be saving money regardless).

More standard features of Truebill include the ability to generate a credit report on-demand and even request a pay advance. I only used the pay advance feature once when I wanted to buy a gift for my mom, but didn't have enough cash in hand and Truebill automatically reimbursed itself when I got my next paycheck.

The credit report is another fantastic feature and practically taught me what good credit meant. Truebill's credit report basically shows you which financial decisions have the most significant impact on your credit score and ways that you can improve your credit month-over-month. I've never had such control over my credit and it feels good.

I'll be the first to admit that I was extremely naive coming out of school. I figured that as long as I was attentive, I could manage my finances with ease. We manage money to some extent throughout our entire lives, but once you're thrown out on your own, it's a completely different story. With Truebill, I've finally been able to take control over my finances and stay on top of all of my responsibilities.

Update: Our friends at Truebill are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to sign-up for Truebill.

My buddies and I always try to make it out to a game, but we never really care which one we end up at. Obviously we have our favorite sports and teams, but it was rarely about what game we went to or who we saw playing. It was about watching the game live.

In the early months of lockdown, all we had was Korean baseball, and trust me, we loved it. The only issue was, none of us had any idea what the commentators were saying. Even then, a few of my friends weren't huge fans of baseball. They were into sports like football and basketball, ones that moved at a quicker pace with less down-time in between plays.

We decided to see if there were any other events going down and came across horse racing. Yes, horse racing. It was perfect--short, fast-paced, and most importantly, an opportunity for betting.

I had never really considered watching a horse race any time other than the Belmont Stakes, but the prospects of the sport seemed exhilarating. Even better, with horse racing we knew we could still recreate the atmosphere of a race track. Salty snacks? Check. Stale beer? Check. A simple and easy way to bet? Check.

One quick Google search later, we came across TVG, powered by FanDuel. It's an online betting platform that takes you right to the heart of the action. We were a little apprehensive about using a mobile app to place our bets, but TVG's ability to bet on live horse races from all over the world was too good to pass up.

Here are 5 reasons why we are obsessed with horse racing thanks to TVG:

1. Betting has never been easier

Use your phone or computer to watch and bet on live horse races in real-time. TVG offers a bunch of features to make betting even simpler--live odds and handicapping tips leverage recent learnings to help you make your best bet. Not to mention, TVG's exclusive race content and wagering guide offers an under-the-hood look into the strategy behind horse race betting.

2. The biggest selection of horse races out there

If you're looking to drop a little dough on a horse race, chances are your best option is your local race track. But watching the same few horses races over and over again isn't the most exciting thing. With TVG you have access to over 150 tracks worldwide with races happening consistently throughout the day.

3. Get a generous sign-up offer when you place your first bet

Once you register your account, you will be eligible for a $200 risk-free bet. All you have to do is place your first bet and you're covered. If you happen to lose, TVG will insure you for up to $200 as a sort of wagering credit. I may have been a little trigger happy when placing my first bet, so having this insurance was a great perk. There are also a bunch of promotional offers available year-round.

4. Making deposits and cashing out at the touch of button

With a ton of payment options such as PayPal, BetCash, debit/credit, wire transfers, and other third-party services, making a deposit is a breeze. But what about the payout? Depending on your deposit method, your withdrawal will be available in a few days. No more waiting in-line to collect your winnings!

5. Watching live races with your friends while betting is exhilarating

Even when we were watching Korean baseball, Zoom calls with my friends were a little dull.

With TVG, we haven't had this sort of fun in months! Every weekend we'll turn on a race and throw our bets in. After a few races, and quite a few drinks, we'll tally up our winnings to see who won the most! Sometimes it's not even about making money, but just having a good time.

TVG is the perfect way to add a little excitement to an otherwise mundane afternoon. It introduced me to the world of horse racing, a sport I never would have considered otherwise.

The races just keep ramping up and thanks to TVG, I can always get in on the fun.

UPDATE: The biggest derby in horse racing is THIS WEEKEND. Get in on the action with your $200 risk-free bet!

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