By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) — Sure, winning nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in Mega Millions drawing would be nice. But if your financial plans for 2011 don’t go beyond that, you might want to rethink things.

To figure things out, WBZ asked financial planner David Caruso to look into his literal and figurative crystal ball to make some predictions about 2011.

First off, Caruso says “things are definitely getting better,” especially when compared to 2008 or 2009. The CEO of Danvers-based Coastal Capital Group expects 2011 to see some of the same slow and sporadic growth that marked 2010.

“I don’t see it being nirvana this year, but I do see these long term trends kicking in and I think we’re probably going to have a pretty good year,” Caruso explains.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports.

Part of the reason?

Average Americans are finally thinking positively about their personal finances and about the larger economy as well.

“I think in the last year we’ve gained a fair amount of confidence,” adds Caruso. “I also think people are seeing their 401ks go up. I think they’re feeling better about things; they’re spending this year in the holidays.”

Caruso has some tips for people to take advantage of this newfound-if-tentative optimism.

For one, use free money.

The government’s taking two percent less out of your check for social security, starting tomorrow.

Caruso calls that “automatic money.” He advises people put that newfound income into their retirement accounts, mutual funds, individual stocks — anything that takes advantage of what are still relatively inexpensive times in the market.

“My new year’s resolution for everybody out there? Make sure you’re not spending more than you’re earning and then take the rest of that and put it into something like a mutual fund or like your 401k.”

That way, you won’t be looking back New Year’s Eve 2011, feeling like you missed out on some solid opportunities.


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