Financial Planning: 5 ways to make your money work for you.

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Money: Whether you have a little or a lot, the way you manage it makes a difference. And the decisions you make today can have a tremendous impact on what you'll have tomorrow.

The best financial plans revolve around balancing five basic actions: save, spend, grow, protect and give. Let's take a look at each area more closely.

Saving is about building up the resources you need to cover today's goals and any surprises that come up—while also preparing for the lifestyle you want in the future. Start by creating an emergency fund with three to six months of living expenses. Then put aside money every month to meet your short-term goals. But also think long term — the sooner you start, the more your money will grow.

Spending is about planning and managing your expenses. By spending wisely, you can afford the things you need, strategically eliminate debts like student loans and still have cash for what you want. Start by creating a simple budget that covers essential expenses first — then savings and extras.

Now let's look at grow. It's important to be strategic about where you invest your hard-earned money, as it can have a big impact on its potential to grow over time. And start now… even if that means starting small.

No financial plan would be complete without the element of protection. You need a plan to help protect it all — your loved ones, the money you've already accumulated and your future income — by having the right insurance coverage in place.

And the last piece in your financial picture? Give. Where would you like to make a difference? By setting aside a few hours or dollars each month or year, you can make an impact on causes that matter to you.

There you have it … the five basic actions that are key to your financial plan. But you don't have to do it alone. At Northwestern Mutual, we help you see your whole picture and find out what you truly want, and then together we design a plan to go get it. Let's get started today!