2Whether in the context of earning it, saving it, investing and growing it, or just managing and holding on to it, money is a complicated subject that everyone seems to miraculously be an expert on these days. As such, there are a lot of unscrupulous individuals that would like to tell you about money just to advise you down a path that benefits them, not you. So what do you really need to know?
  1. Concentrate your efforts. In reality, most people aren't able to achieve the vast financial objectives and goals they've set for themselves. By narrowing your objectives and identifying and prioritizing your goals based on what matters to you most, you can concentrate your efforts and have a much better chance of success.
  2. Choose prudently. As you determine and set your goals, look at what will not only make you happy and fulfilled, but also help you have a feeling of financial security. Goals commonly at the top are an emergency fund, covering a child's college tuition, and getting out from under debt.
  3. Focus on the primary goals first. As with No. 1 on our list, you might find it hard to put desirable, but less important goals, on the back burner. However, this will be a necessary evil to ensure you achieve your primary goals.
  4. Prepare yourself for conflicting feelings. Goals will often come into conflict with each other, especially as your financial and personal life continues to evolve. Ask yourself what the deferring of each goal would mean for you and your family and which goal would have a vaster or more substantial benefit?
  5. Time can be your enemy. Time will be one of the most important allies in reaching your goals; the more time you have, the greater chance you have to reach loftier financial goals. For example, money in stocks and bonds or interest-earning accounts will only grow and compound with time. Younger individuals will have longer to build their nest eggs and can take greater investment risks than older individuals with shorter investment horizons and less time to recover from a risky investment gone wrong. The longer you wait to set your goals and implement your plan, the more difficult success will be.
  6. Don't go it alone. Make sure to include your significant other as you set your goals. You should even give older children a voice in the goals that involve or affect them.
  7. Don't ignore spending. You don't need to worry if you make the occasional extra trip to the coffee shop. It's fine to include some degree of fun or comfort into your daily expenses, but you do need to remember your long-term goals in your spending habits. You certainly need to sweat the big stuff and keep your major purchases inline with your goals. You need to ask yourself if each and every big purchase is taking you further from or closer to your primary goals. Try to avoid, or at least reduce, any purchase that doesn't contribute to achieving your goals. You might deserve a cruise, but if it steals from your child's college tuition fund, then it might be better to take a weekend road trip instead.
  8. Don't ignore change. Every one to five years, you should reexamine your goals and priorities. If for no other reason than elapsed time, your needs, desires, and personal and professional circumstances may have changed.
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