BOSTON (CBS) – We all do dumb things with our money but we can learn from our mistakes! And more importantly we can learn from other people’s mistakes.

There are common mistakes people make over and over again that maybe, just maybe we can help you avoid.

Not having money goals is a common mistake! It may not sound like a big mistake but when bad things in life happen we just react. One of my favorite sayings is: “People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan”.

As grown-ups almost all of the decisions we make have a financial component to them. Whether it’s what house we buy or going on a diet. Even dating. There is always money involved!

If you are coupled, that’s politically correct for living together or married, I would recommend you work on your goals together. What are your shared goals?

Makes more sense if you are both working toward common goals. And it makes it easier as well to reach those goals if you are both working on them.

As you start this process think about where you want to be in one year, 5, 10, 20 years. What do you want to achieve? The American dream? A House paid off as you go into a comfortable retirement with your kids grown and through college. Maybe you need to get out of credit card debt first?

Whatever it is, studies have shown that if you commit your goals to paper you have a better chance of achieving them! After writing them down your brain begins to work subconsciously on them using your reticular activating system to help you achieve your goals.

Check it out, there really is something called a reticular activating system. It is a mechanism in the brain which determines what we pay attention to.

Now that you have the goals written down, prioritize them. What’s the most important? Next figure out how you are going to reach those goals and give yourself a time horizon. When do you want to accomplish these dreams?

For example, you have a 2-year-old and you want her to go to college. That’s easy, Goal: college. Time horizon: 16 years. Now think about what kind of college education. UMASS or Boston College? How much can you save each month to accomplish this goal and what tools or investments will you use to reach those goals? The State’s 529 plan, the UFund provided by Fidelity or will you use EE savings bonds.

Key is writing down what you want and then keep score. How are you doing? Do this a couple times a year and that will help keep you focused on your goals.


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