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Raymond James: A column by James Kruzan

Strategies to meet your financial goals

August 31, 2011 - Close your eyes and visualize your dream vacation or the shiny new car that you've always dreamed of owning. Sure, looks great! Unfortunately, for many of us the planning stops right there. With a little planning and discipline the likelihood of achieving our goals can be dramatically improved. Consider implementing one, if not all, of the strategies listed below to improve your financial picture.

• Write down your financial goals and objectives, include deadlines. This will help you stay focused.

• Use credit cards as little as possible. Financing your lifestyle with credit cards is a trap. Reach for your checkbook instead.

• Pay off your credit cards each month. With the new minimum payment requirements around 5%, consumers will get out of debt quicker.

• Spend a little, but save a little more. As your debts are paid off, save the "extra" cash each month. Many people are tempted to overspend with the "extra" cash.

• Keep a savings balance of at least 6 months of expenses. This cash cushion can be used when emergencies do arise instead of charging on credit cards.

• Map out a college savings plan and begin funding early.

• Manage taxes early in the year and look for deductions, credits and deferral of income to reduce your tax bill. The savings on taxes can be used for other goals.

• Go for steady, consistent, long-term growth in your investment. By the time you read about a "hot tip" it's usually cold.

• Protect your valuables and income earning potential with appropriate insurance policies including mortgage, life, and disability policies.

• Invest for retirement. At best, Social Security will cover only a fraction of the money you will need for retirement. Talk to your financial advisor about preparing for a comfortable retirement.

• Create an estate plan. Many people think you must be super wealthy to do estate planning which is not true. Avoiding probate and passing assets to heirs estate tax free, may be the main goals.

This material was prepared by Raymond James for use by James B. Kruzan, CFP®, CRPC® of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC.

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