Priorities, especially financial priorities, are all about making choices. They’re about deciding what outranks something else, about the relevance of one item against the backdrop of your personal financial situation. Priorities determine what you spend money on … and what you DON’T spend money on. What are MY financial priorities?
 I rank my financial priorities according to five separate criteria:
- Things that are critical
- Things that are essential
- Things that are important
- Things that are significant
- Things that are preferable
The great thing about “personal” finance is that it is indeed PERSONAL . What is important for a 44 year old male with a stable job and three teenagers is different than what is important for a 72 year old female on a fixed income and different again for a 21 year old college student with erratic income and a bright future. There are general rules of thumb, but I personally avoid giving (or accepting) hard and fast advice, especially advice from someone in a completely different financial situation than myself.
So, where do my financial priorities rank?
- If there’s one thing that’s critical, it’s taxes. I make sure my taxes are on time, complete, accurate, and honest.
- Also critical is spending less than I earn … no matter what. Some people call this “debt avoidance.”
- Regularly making deposits to my savings account  is also critical in my personal financial plan.
- Another critical aspect for me is taking advantage of any employer sponsored retirement benefits and backing those up with personal retirement investing.
- Having the right insurance for my car, my home, my health, and my life.
- Living by a budget  is also essential. It keeps my dollars working for me rather than me working for them. YNAB  is the best way to insure your spending plan is workable.
- Another essential piece of my personal financial plan is having a healthy emergency fund. Nothing makes me sleep better at night than knowing I can weather a money emergency.
- Managing my credit score  and credit report (they are different, you know!). I want to make certain that my credit reputation is stellar.
- Fully funding my children’s 529 plans for college.
- Making regular donations to my church is also important to me personally.
- Preventing identity theft ranks relatively high for me. Having gone through that nightmare, I have a little bit of a different perspective than a lot of other bloggers.
- Living a frugal lifestyle and not wasting money, while significant in my daily life, doesn’t overwhelm and dominate every decision I make. Life’s too short.
- Making extra money is a significant aspect of many of my decisions. I think it’s a lot more fun to increase my income than constantly fight battle with the outflow.
- Paying off my mortgage  early is something I prefer to do, but it isn’t that high on my list.
- Buying some rental property is another thing that interests me personally, though I know that being a landlord is a nightmare at times. I might prefer to buy fixer-uppers since I have a lot of latent handyman skills (that i rarely use anymore).
So there you have my personal financial priorities. What are yours?