Master Your Financial Health: An Exclusive Guide on Personal Finance in India

·

·

Welcome to “Master Your Financial Health: An Exclusive Guide on Personal Finance in India”! In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of personal finance and equip you with the knowledge and tools to take control of your financial well-being. Whether you’re a young professional just starting out or a seasoned individual looking to fine-tune your financial strategy, this guide will provide valuable insights and tips to help you make informed decisions.

Personal finance is essential for everyone, regardless of income level or financial goals. By understanding the basic principles and concepts of personal finance, you can optimize your financial resources, minimize debt, maximize savings, and plan for a secure future. This guide will cover a wide range of topics, including budgeting, saving and investing, managing debt, insurance, retirement planning, tax compliance, and building a solid financial foundation.

Throughout this guide, we will demystify complex financial jargon and provide practical examples and real-life scenarios to help you grasp the concepts easily. So, grab a cup of coffee or tea, get comfortable, and let’s embark on this financial journey together!

Key takeaways:

  • Personal finance is crucial for everyone, regardless of their financial situation.
  • This guide will empower you to make informed financial decisions.
  • We will cover a wide range of topics related to personal finance in India.
  • Practical examples and real-life scenarios will be provided to aid understanding.

Understanding Personal Finance

When it comes to personal finance, many people find themselves feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. However, understanding personal finance is crucial for managing your money effectively and securing your financial future. In this section, we will explore the importance of personal finance and cover some key financial concepts that will help you master your financial health.

Importance of Personal Finance

Personal finance is all about managing your money and making informed decisions about how to allocate your resources. It is a critical life skill that empowers you to take control of your financial situation and achieve your goals. Here are a few reasons why understanding personal finance is essential:

  • Financial Stability: Personal finance helps you maintain financial stability by balancing your income and expenses, enabling you to meet your financial obligations and save for the future.
  • Goal Achievement: Establishing clear financial goals and developing a plan to achieve them is an important part of personal finance. Whether it’s buying a house, planning for retirement, or taking a dream vacation, understanding personal finance helps you make decisions that align with your goals.
  • Debt Management: Personal finance equips you with the knowledge and skills to manage debt effectively. By understanding how different types of debt work and implementing strategies to reduce debt, you can improve your financial well-being.
  • Investment Potential: Knowing how to save and invest your money intelligently is a significant aspect of personal finance. By assessing investment options and understanding risk and return, you can grow your wealth and secure your future.
  • Financial Security: Personal finance helps you plan for unexpected events and build a safety net. By focusing on creating an emergency fund and having adequate insurance coverage, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from financial hardships.

Key Financial Concepts

As you dive into the world of personal finance, it’s important to have a basic understanding of some key financial concepts. Here are a few that will serve as a foundation for your financial journey:

  • Income: The money you earn from various sources, such as your salary, investments, or freelance work.
  • Expenses: The money you spend on necessities, such as rent, utilities, groceries, and discretionary items.
  • Budgeting: Creating a budget involves tracking your income and expenses, and allocating your money towards different categories based on your priorities and financial goals.
  • Savings: Setting aside a portion of your income for future use or emergencies. Savings can be kept in a savings account, fixed deposit, or other investment vehicles.
  • Investments: Putting your money into assets, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or real estate, with the expectation of generating returns over time.
  • Debt: Money borrowed from a lender with the agreement to repay it over time, usually with interest. Common types of debt include student loans, mortgages, credit card debt, and personal loans.
  • Credit Score: A three-digit number that reflects your creditworthiness. It is an important factor used by lenders to determine whether to extend credit to you and at what interest rate.
  • Insurance: A contract in which an individual or entity receives financial protection or reimbursement against specific risks, such as health issues, accidents, or property damage.
  • Retirement Planning: Preparing financially for your retirement years by setting aside money and investing it to meet your future expenses when you are no longer working.

By familiarizing yourself with these concepts, you will be better equipped to navigate the world of personal finance and make informed financial decisions.

Budgeting and Expense Management

Managing your finances effectively is crucial for achieving your financial goals and ensuring financial stability. One of the key components of personal finance is budgeting and expense management. By creating a budget and tracking your expenses, you can gain control over your money and make informed financial decisions. In this section, we will explore the importance of personal budgeting, how to create a budget, ways to track and analyze your expenses, and tips for effective expense management.

Creating a Personal Budget

A personal budget is a financial plan that helps you allocate your income towards different categories of expenses and savings goals. Here are some steps to create a personal budget:

  1. Calculate your income: Start by determining your total income from all sources, including salaries, investments, and any other sources of income.
  2. List your expenses: Make a comprehensive list of your regular expenses, including fixed expenses like rent/mortgage, utilities, and loan payments, as well as variable expenses like groceries, entertainment, and transportation.
  3. Set savings goals: Identify your financial goals, such as building an emergency fund, saving for a down payment, or planning for retirement. Allocate a portion of your income towards these savings goals.
  4. Allocate your income: Distribute your income among your expenses and savings goals based on priority. Ensure that your total expenses do not exceed your income.
  5. Review and adjust: Regularly review your budget and make adjustments as needed, based on changes in income or expenses.

Tracking and Analyzing Expenses

Tracking your expenses is an essential part of budgeting and expense management. By monitoring your spending habits, you can identify areas where you may be overspending and make necessary adjustments. Here’s how you can track and analyze your expenses:

  1. Maintain a record: Keep a record of every expense you make, whether it’s through a smartphone app, spreadsheet, or a traditional pen-and-paper method.
  2. Categorize your expenses: Group your expenses into categories like groceries, transportation, dining out, entertainment, etc. This will help you understand where most of your money goes.
  3. Analyze your spending patterns: Look for trends in your expenses to identify areas where you could potentially cut back. For example, if you realize that you spend a significant portion of your income on dining out, you can consider cooking more meals at home to save money.
  4. Identify unnecessary expenses: Review your expenses to identify any unnecessary or impulse purchases. Eliminating or reducing these expenses can free up more money for savings or essential expenses.

Tips for Effective Expense Management

To effectively manage your expenses and stick to your budget, consider implementing the following tips:

  1. Prioritize your needs over wants: Distinguish between essential expenses and discretionary spending. Prioritize your needs and allocate your money accordingly.
  2. Practice conscious spending: Before making a purchase, ask yourself if it aligns with your financial goals and if you really need it. Avoid impulsive shopping and only spend on things that truly add value to your life.
  3. Negotiate and compare prices: Research and compare prices before making big purchases. Additionally, consider negotiating for better deals or discounts whenever possible.
  4. Automate your savings: Set up automatic transfers to a separate savings or investment account. This way, a portion of your income will go towards savings before you have a chance to spend it.

By following these budgeting and expense management practices, you can gain control over your finances, reduce debt, and save for your future financial goals. Take the first step towards financial security by creating a personal budget and tracking your expenses today!

Smart Saving and Investing

When it comes to personal finance, one of the most important aspects is saving and investing. Smart saving and investing can help you grow your wealth and secure your financial future. In this section, we will explore various strategies and options for saving and investing wisely in India.

Types of Savings Accounts

Choosing the right savings account is the first step towards smart saving. Here are some popular types of savings accounts in India:

  • Regular Savings Account: This is a basic account offered by banks that allows you to deposit and withdraw money as needed. It usually offers minimal interest.
  • High-Interest Savings Account: These accounts offer higher interest rates compared to regular savings accounts. They are a great option if you want your money to grow faster.
  • Fixed Deposit (FD) Accounts: FD accounts offer a fixed interest rate for a specified period. It is a low-risk investment option and is ideal for those who don’t need immediate access to their funds.
  • Recurring Deposit (RD) Accounts: In RD accounts, you can deposit a fixed amount every month for a specified period, and it earns interest. RDs are a good option for disciplined savers.

Investment Options in India

Once you have built a solid savings foundation, it’s time to consider investing your money. Here are some popular investment options in India:

  • Mutual Funds: Mutual funds allow you to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, and other securities. They are managed by professionals and are suitable for both beginners and experienced investors.
  • Stocks: Investing in the stock market can provide substantial returns, but it also carries higher risks. If you are comfortable with risk and have a good understanding of the market, investing in stocks can be lucrative.
  • Real Estate: Investing in real estate can be a long-term wealth-building strategy. It offers potential appreciation and rental income. However, real estate investments require significant capital and careful research.
  • Gold: Gold has always been considered a safe investment option. It can act as a hedge against inflation and economic uncertainties. You can invest in gold through physical gold, gold ETFs, or gold mutual funds.

Understanding Risk and Return

Before investing, it’s crucial to understand the concept of risk and return. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Risk: Every investment carries a certain level of risk. Higher-return investments typically come with higher risks. It is important to assess your risk tolerance and choose investments accordingly.
  • Return: Return refers to the profit or gain you make on your investment. Different investments offer different potential returns. It’s important to consider your financial goals and time horizon when evaluating potential returns.
  • Diversification: Diversifying your investment portfolio can help mitigate risk. By spreading your investments across different asset classes, sectors, and geographies, you reduce the impact of any single investment’s performance on your overall portfolio.

Building an Investment Portfolio

Building a well-diversified investment portfolio is crucial for long-term financial success. Here are some tips for creating a strong investment portfolio:

  • Set investment goals: Determine your financial goals and time horizon to guide your investment decisions.
  • Consider asset allocation: Allocate your investments across different asset classes such as stocks, bonds, and cash to balance risk and potential return.
  • Regularly review and rebalance: Monitor your investment portfolio regularly and rebalance it as needed to ensure it aligns with your goals.
  • Seek professional advice: If you are unsure about investing or need assistance, consider consulting a financial advisor who can guide you through the investment process.

By following these smart saving and investing strategies, you can make your money work harder for you and achieve your financial goals in the long run. Remember to do thorough research, seek professional advice when needed, and stay updated with market trends to maximize your investment returns.

Understanding Debt and Credit Score

Welcome to the section on understanding debt and credit score. In this section, we will explore the different types of debt, how to manage and reduce debt, the importance of credit score, and tips for maintaining a good credit score. Understanding debt and credit score is essential for maintaining a healthy financial life and making informed financial decisions.

Types of Debt

Debt is a financial obligation that one owes to another party. It can be categorized into different types:

  1. Credit Card Debt: This is debt accumulated through credit card usage. It is important to pay credit card bills on time to avoid high-interest charges.
  2. Student Loan Debt: This type of debt is taken to finance education and is usually payable after completing the education or when the borrower starts earning a certain income.
  3. Mortgage Debt: Mortgage debt is taken to purchase a home or property. It is typically a long-term loan with regular monthly payments.
  4. Personal Loan Debt: Personal loans are unsecured loans taken for various purposes like medical expenses, home renovations, or debt consolidation.

Managing and Reducing Debt

Managing and reducing debt is crucial for maintaining financial stability. Here are some tips:

  1. Create a Debt Repayment Plan: Make a list of all your debts, including the outstanding balance and interest rates. Prioritize which debts to pay off first based on interest rates and total amount owed.
  2. Make Regular Payments: Pay your debts on time to avoid late fees and penalties. Set up automatic payments or reminders to ensure you don’t miss any payments.
  3. Negotiate with Creditors: If you’re struggling to make payments, consider negotiating with your creditors for lower interest rates or a more manageable repayment plan.
  4. Avoid Taking on New Debt: Minimize taking on new debt while you are repaying existing ones. Focus on paying off existing debts before taking on new financial obligations.

Importance of Credit Score

A credit score is a numerical representation of an individual’s creditworthiness. It is used by lenders to determine the likelihood of a borrower repaying their debts. A good credit score is crucial for various financial endeavors, including:

  • Loan Approval: Lenders, such as banks and financial institutions, use credit scores to assess loan applications. A higher credit score improves your chances of loan approval and may lead to better interest rates.
  • Lower Interest Rates: With a good credit score, you are more likely to qualify for loans and credit cards with lower interest rates, saving you money in the long run.
  • Rental Applications: Landlords often check credit scores when evaluating rental applications. A higher credit score may increase your chances of being approved for a rental property.
  • Insurance Premiums: Insurers may consider your credit score when determining premiums for auto, home, or life insurance. A good credit score can help you get more favorable insurance rates.

Tips for Maintaining a Good Credit Score

Maintaining a good credit score requires consistent effort and responsible financial behavior. Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy credit score:

  1. Pay Bills on Time: Late payments can significantly impact your credit score. Make a habit of paying your bills on time, including credit card bills, loan payments, and utility bills.
  2. Keep Credit Card Balances Low: Aim to keep credit card balances below 30% of the credit limit. High credit utilization can negatively affect your credit score.
  3. Regularly Check Your Credit Report: Monitor your credit report regularly for any errors or inaccuracies. Dispute any incorrect information with the credit bureau to maintain an accurate credit profile.
  4. Limit New Credit Applications: Opening multiple new credit accounts within a short period can lower your credit score. Only apply for new credit when necessary.

Understanding debt and credit score is essential for financial well-being. By managing and reducing your debt and maintaining a good credit score, you can build a strong foundation for your financial future. Remember to make informed financial decisions and prioritize responsible borrowing and repayment practices.

Insurance and Retirement Planning

When it comes to personal finance, one aspect that cannot be ignored is insurance and retirement planning. These two areas play a crucial role in safeguarding your financial well-being and ensuring a comfortable post-retirement life. In this section, we will explore the different types of insurance policies, the importance of retirement planning, and how to go about effectively planning for your golden years.

Types of Insurance Policies

Insurance is a means of transferring the risk of financial loss to an insurance company in exchange for regular premium payments. Here are some common types of insurance policies to consider:

  1. Life Insurance: Life insurance provides a sum of money to your beneficiaries in the event of your demise. It acts as a financial safety net and can help cover expenses such as funeral costs, outstanding debts, and loss of income.
  2. Health Insurance: Health insurance is essential to protect you and your family from the high costs of medical treatments and hospitalizations. It provides coverage for doctor visits, hospitalization, surgeries, and medication expenses.
  3. Motor Insurance: Motor insurance, also known as auto insurance, is mandatory in India. It covers the damages to your vehicle and third-party liabilities arising from accidents.
  4. Home Insurance: Home insurance protects your property against damages caused by natural disasters like fire, flood, or earthquakes. It also covers theft and vandalism.
  5. Travel Insurance: Travel insurance provides coverage for unexpected events during your domestic or international trips. It usually includes medical expenses, trip cancellation or interruption, lost luggage, and emergency evacuation.

Planning for Retirement

Retirement planning is crucial for ensuring financial security during your golden years. Here are some essential steps to consider when planning for retirement:

  1. Set Retirement Goals: Determine how much money you would need to maintain your current lifestyle post-retirement. Consider factors like living expenses, healthcare costs, and any additional expenses you may have.
  2. Calculate Retirement Needs: Use retirement calculators or consult a financial advisor to estimate the amount of money you should save to achieve your retirement goals. Take into account factors like inflation and your expected lifespan.
  3. Investment and Retirement Accounts: Explore different retirement accounts like the Employee Provident Fund (EPF), the National Pension Scheme (NPS), or individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Consider investing in mutual funds, stocks, and bonds to grow your retirement savings.
  4. Review Regularly: Regularly review your retirement plan to ensure you are on track to meet your goals. Make adjustments as needed and stay informed about changes in retirement policies and investment opportunities.

Building a Strong Financial Foundation

Insurance and retirement planning are crucial components of building a strong financial foundation. Here are a few additional tips to help you establish a solid financial base:

  1. Set Financial Goals: Clearly define your short-term and long-term financial goals. This will help you stay focused and motivated to achieve them.
  2. Create an Emergency Fund: Save a portion of your income for unexpected expenses or emergencies. Aim to have at least 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses saved in an easily accessible account.
  3. Build and Maintain Credit History: Establish a good credit history by paying your bills on time and managing your debts responsibly. A good credit score is essential for obtaining loans and favorable interest rates.
  4. Long-Term Wealth Creation: Consider investing in avenues like real estate, stocks, and mutual funds to create long-term wealth. Diversify your portfolio to reduce risk and maximize returns.

Protecting yourself and your loved ones with insurance, and planning for a financially secure retirement are crucial steps in mastering your personal finances. By understanding the different types of insurance policies available and effectively planning for retirement, you can pave the way for a secure and prosperous future. So, take charge of your financial health today and create a robust financial plan that will stand the test of time.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

Tax Planning and Compliance

When it comes to personal finance, tax planning and compliance play a crucial role in managing your financial health. Understanding the Indian tax system and making smart choices regarding your tax-saving investments can help you optimize your tax liabilities and maximize your savings. In this section, we will explore the key aspects of tax planning and compliance in India.

Understanding Indian Tax System

The Indian tax system is complex, with various tax laws and regulations that individuals need to be aware of. Here are some essential points to understand:

  • Income Tax: Income tax is levied on the income earned by individuals, including salary, business profits, and capital gains. Different tax slabs and rates apply based on the income level.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST): GST is a value-added tax levied on the supply of goods and services. It has replaced multiple indirect taxes and aims to simplify taxation by applying a uniform tax across the country.
  • Wealth Tax: Wealth tax is no longer applicable in India since its abolition in 2015. However, individuals with significant assets may still need to consider other forms of wealth-related taxation.
  • Corporate Tax: Corporate tax is levied on the profits earned by companies and businesses.

Tax-saving Investments

One of the key aspects of tax planning is making investments that provide tax benefits. Here are some popular tax-saving options available in India:

  • Employee Provident Fund (EPF): EPF is a retirement savings scheme where employees contribute a portion of their salary, which is tax-deductible under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.
  • Public Provident Fund (PPF): PPF is a long-term investment scheme that offers tax benefits on contributions, along with tax-free interest and maturity proceeds.
  • National Pension Scheme (NPS): NPS is a voluntary retirement savings scheme that provides tax benefits on contributions up to a specified limit.
  • Tax-saving Fixed Deposits (FDs): Banks offer fixed deposit schemes with a lock-in period of five years, providing tax benefits under Section 80C.
  • Equity-linked Saving Schemes (ELSS): ELSS is a type of mutual fund that invests in equity markets and offers tax benefits on investments under Section 80C.

Filing Income Tax Returns

Filing income tax returns is a legal requirement for individuals who earn income above the specified threshold. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The financial year in India runs from April 1st to March 31st the following year.
  • Filing income tax returns can be done online through the Income Tax Department’s website or by seeking assistance from tax professionals.
  • It is important to gather all the necessary documents such as Form 16, TDS certificates, and other relevant financial statements before filing your returns.
  • Individuals who are eligible for a refund or have taxable income need to file their returns within the specified due date.

Avoiding Taxation Pitfalls

To ensure compliance with tax laws and avoid penalties, here are some crucial points to keep in mind:

  • Maintain Proper Documentation: Keep copies of income-related documents, investment proofs, and other relevant financial records to substantiate your claims.
  • Stay Updated: Stay informed about changes in tax laws, exemptions, and deductions to optimize your tax planning strategies.
  • Avoid Tax Evasion: Tax evasion is a serious offense and can result in legal consequences. Focus on legal tax planning and consult with professionals if needed.
  • Utilize Exemptions and Deductions: Maximize your tax savings by taking advantage of exemptions and deductions available under the Income Tax Act.

By understanding the Indian tax system, making tax-saving investments, filing income tax returns, and avoiding taxation pitfalls, you can effectively plan your taxes and ensure compliance with the law. Taking a proactive approach to tax planning will not only optimize your savings but also contribute to your overall financial well-being.

Building a Strong Financial Foundation

Building a strong financial foundation is essential for achieving long-term financial success and security. By implementing certain strategies and practices, you can ensure that you are on the right track towards building wealth and achieving your financial goals. Here are some key steps to help you lay the foundation for a strong financial future:

Setting Financial Goals

  • Start by setting clear and realistic financial goals. These can include short-term goals, such as paying off debt or saving for a vacation, as well as long-term goals, such as buying a house or retiring comfortably.
  • Write down your goals and make them specific. This will help you stay focused and motivated throughout your financial journey.

Creating an Emergency Fund

  • One of the first things you should do when building a strong financial foundation is to create an emergency fund. This fund should ideally cover 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses.
  • The emergency fund acts as a safety net in case of unexpected expenses or income loss. It provides financial security and protects you from going into debt in times of crisis.

Building and Maintaining Credit History

  • Having a good credit history is crucial when it comes to borrowing money for major purchases, such as a home or a car. It also affects your ability to get approved for credit cards or loans.
  • To build and maintain a strong credit history, make sure to pay your bills on time, keep your credit utilization low, and avoid taking on too much debt.
  • Regularly check your credit report to ensure that there are no errors or fraudulent activity that could negatively impact your credit score.

Long-Term Wealth Creation

  • Building long-term wealth requires a disciplined approach and a well-thought-out investment strategy. Consider diversifying your investments across different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate.
  • Take advantage of tax-efficient investment options, such as retirement accounts and tax-saving schemes. This can help you reduce your tax liability while growing your wealth over time.
  • Regularly review and adjust your investment portfolio based on your changing financial goals and market conditions.

Building a strong financial foundation takes time and effort, but the rewards are well worth it. By implementing the strategies mentioned above and consistently making smart financial decisions, you can set yourself up for a secure and prosperous future.

Remember, building wealth is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires patience, discipline, and a long-term perspective. Start today, and take small steps towards achieving your financial goals. Your future self will thank you for it.

To summarize, building a strong financial foundation involves setting clear goals, creating an emergency fund, maintaining a good credit history, and focusing on long-term wealth creation. By following these steps, you can take control of your finances and pave the way for a bright financial future.

Read the next section to conclude the article.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of our exclusive guide on personal finance in India. We have covered a wide range of topics to help you master your financial health and take control of your future. Here are the key takeaways from each section:

  1. Understanding Personal Finance: Personal finance is all about managing your money effectively to achieve financial security and meet your goals. Key concepts like budgeting, saving, investing, and understanding debt are important foundations for financial success.
  2. Budgeting and Expense Management: Creating a personal budget helps you track your income and expenses, prioritize your spending, and identify areas where you can cut back. Tracking and analyzing expenses allows you to make informed decisions about your financial priorities.
  3. Smart Saving and Investing: Explore different types of savings accounts and investment options available in India to grow your money. Understand the concept of risk and return, and build a diversified investment portfolio based on your risk tolerance and financial goals.
  4. Understanding Debt and Credit Score: Learn about different types of debt and strategies to manage and reduce them. Your credit score plays a crucial role in your financial life, impacting your ability to access credit. Taking steps to maintain a good credit score is essential.
  5. Insurance and Retirement Planning: Protect yourself and your loved ones with various insurance policies. Start planning for your retirement early by considering investment and retirement accounts, and calculate your retirement needs based on your desired lifestyle.
  6. Tax Planning and Compliance: Understand the Indian tax system and explore tax-saving investment options to minimize your tax liability. Filing income tax returns accurately and avoiding taxation pitfalls is crucial for financial well-being.
  7. Building a Strong Financial Foundation: Set clear financial goals, create an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, build and maintain a good credit history, and work towards long-term wealth creation.

By implementing the strategies and tips outlined in this guide, you will be well on your way to achieving financial stability and success. Remember, personal finance is a continuous journey that requires ongoing learning and adaptation. Stay informed, stay disciplined, and enjoy the rewards of a strong financial foundation. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are some essential tips for managing personal finances in India?

    Some essential tips for managing personal finances in India include creating a budget, tracking expenses, saving and investing wisely, paying off high-interest debts, having adequate insurance coverage, and planning for retirement.

  2. Which are the best investment options for personal finance in India?

    Some of the best investment options for personal finance in India include fixed deposits, mutual funds, public provident fund (PPF), national pension scheme (NPS), stocks, real estate, and gold.

  3. How can I improve my credit score in India?

    To improve your credit score in India, ensure timely repayment of loans and credit card bills, maintain a low credit utilization ratio, avoid applying for multiple credit lines simultaneously, and regularly check your credit report for errors.

  4. What is the importance of emergency funds in personal finance?

    Emergency funds are crucial in personal finance as they act as a safety net during unforeseen circumstances like medical emergencies, job loss, or any other financial crisis. It helps cover expenses without resorting to debt or compromising long-term goals.

  5. Is it necessary to hire a financial advisor for personal finance in India?

    While hiring a financial advisor is not compulsory, it can be beneficial to seek professional guidance, especially if you lack expertise in financial matters. A financial advisor can help create personalized financial plans, suggest investment strategies, and provide ongoing advice.