When it comes to financial goals, people have different goals at different times. Some people want several cars and a vacation home in the mountains, while others are just looking to make it through the next pay check.
But regardless of your goals, almost everyone wants a comfortable retirement where they can pursue their dreams and hobbies and not burden their children or society.
A comfortable retirement is obviously a long-term goal, and an ambitious one. To retire at 65 means that you'll have to fund the next 20 years of your life using only your assets, pensions, and any Social Security you may receive.
Even with Social Security, you may need more than $250,000 in today's dollars in income-producing assets to retire at 65. And if you plan on traveling or other activities, you'll need even more money. I cover this topic further in my tape on retirement planning, but anyway you slice it, that's a lot of money.
How will you build up that nest egg? Studies indicate that most Americans haven't done well in this area because half of America's seniors have financial assets of under $10,000. Especially for the baby boomers, who will see a reduction in Social Security benefits, you'll need to begin saving early for retirement.
In addition to this long-term goal of retirement, you'll probably have other goals. Some might be mid-term goals like buying a home or paying for your children's college education. There also might be short-term goals like buying a car or saving for a vacation.
I don't know what your goals are, but I do know you won't be able to reach them unless you determine them yourself, write them down, and lay down a path to reach them. And make sure you include other family members when you cook up your dreams, because you won't be able to make it without their cooperation.
But regardless of what your goals are, you need to get started. The first steps are obvious. You need to figure out where you are now, and you need to eliminate credit card debt if you have any.
Next you should build up an emergency fund and obtain adequate insurance. You can then think about buying a home and begin to save through retirement accounts. After that, if you've still got some money left over, you can look into investing in securities outside of retirement accounts.