BOSTON (CBS) – The financial choices in our lives are overwhelming. Once upon a time, people’s financial lives were simple. There was one kind of mortgage, you had a savings account, no credit cards and if you wanted to buy a stock, you paid an 8% commission thru a broker.

Today everyone should consider having a financial plan, but most individuals have not planned for their future.

The financial planning process can easily be broken down into five simple steps:

  • What do you want? These are your goals.
  • What have you got? This is your net worth.
  • Saving and investing to get what you want.
  • Managing the obstacles you will encounter along the way.
  • Protecting the people you love and the assets you have accumulated.

Let’s start with what you want, the first step. The big picture here. What do you want to be doing in 5, 10, 20 years? Where do you want to be living? What kind of job? Retired? And as grown-ups there is a dollar component to all of our goals. Remember, a goal is a dream with a deadline.

Your number one financial goal should be a comfortable retirement. But often times credit card debt, buying your first house, and having children put retirement planning on the back burner.

Make out a list of your goals. By writing them down you stimulate a part of the brain called the reticular activating system. This system triggers a filtering process and begins to collect information and routes it to the conscious part of your brain.

Now prioritize the list. What is the most important goal? Then write down the time horizon for each goal.

So now you have a prioritized list of your goals, take it one step further. What you have is just an outline. Now fill it in. How much will you need to save? Where will the money come from? Do this with each item on your list.

To find a financial planner to help you achieve your goals and dreams in your area contact the FPA, the Financial Planning Association’s local Boston chapter: or their national website.


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