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Five questions to help pursue goals

Posted January 16, 2013 in Advice Column, Windsor Heights

As you strive to achieve your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement, you may, at times, feel frustrated over events you can’t influence, such as the up-and-down movements of the financial markets. Yet there is much you can control — once you determine the answers to just five key questions.

•    Where am I today? Take stock of all your assets — your IRA, 401(k) and other savings and investment accounts. Then, do the same for your debts, such as your mortgage and any other financial obligations. It is essential to know your starting point.

•    Where would I like to be? Once you have established where you are today, you’ll need to identify where you’d like to be tomorrow. How much will you need to pay for the retirement lifestyle you’ve envisioned? Will you be able to help pay for your children’s or grandchildren’s college education? Will you need to support any other family members? At this stage, you’ll want to write down all your goals and put a price tag on each one.

•    Can I get there? After you have identified your goals, determine if they are, in fact, achievable. By considering a variety of factors — including your likely future income stream and your family situation — you should be able to determine if you can attain your goals or if you need to modify them in some way.

•    How do I get there? Now it’s time to put strategy into action. Specifically, you need to choose those investments that can help you pursue the goals you’ve selected. Your ideal portfolio will depend on your risk tolerance and time horizon, but in general, you’ll want a diversified mix of quality investments. While diversification, by itself, cannot guarantee a profit or protect against loss, it can help reduce the effects of volatility.

•    How can I stay on track? Once you’ve built your investment portfolio, you’ll need to review it regularly — at least once a year — to help ensure it’s still meeting your needs. After all, many things can and will change in your life, such as your family situation, your goals, your employment and your risk tolerance. To address these changes, you will need to adjust your portfolio over time.

It may be beneficial to work with a financial advisor to help identify your goals and create a strategy for pursuing them so you can breathe easy knowing you have a plan in place for the future.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Information provided by Matt Kneifl, financial advisor, Edward Jones, 1100 73rd, Windsor Heights, 279-2219.

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