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Setting Investing Goals is Important


Setting goals is an important part of investing success; however, you may find some goals in conflict with others and in conflict with your lifestyle.

When you set investing goals, you establish not only an end, but also a time frame for the investment. This tells you what type of investment is appropriate for each goal.

For example, some people may have two major goals:

  • A college education for the children
  • A comfortable retirement for themselves
Younger investors might add a first home to the list, while others could add a vacation home or some other major expense in the future.

College Comes First

A college education fund will most likely be needed before the retirement money, yet it would not be wise to wait until the kids are out of college to start saving for retirement.

If you have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k), you should be taking advantage of that, especially if your employer matches a portion of your contribution.

Even if you are doing that already, you will want to plan for additional investments in your retirement. At the same time, you have the college fund needing a regular contribution. Which comes first?


This is the time to sit down and think through each goal.
  • How much financial aid, if any, can you expect from college?
  • Are student loans an option?
  • Is/will the student work?
  • What about scholarships, grants, etc.?
Combine these answerers or estimates with your savings and get an idea of where you are.

The closer you get to needing the money, the more conservative you should be with your investments. If you have some or all of your college money in the stock market, start pulling it out five years before it’s time to write the first check.

Bonds, bank CDs or other saving instruments are a better choice in this short time frame.

What about your retirement fund? Is it fed during this time? When you have more than one major financial goal, there will be conflicts.

Don’t Abandon Retirement

You can’t abandon your retirement completely. If you are able, keep funding both goals. If not, don’t completely abandon your retirement fund during the college accumulation period.

When you need to fund more than one major financial goal (or even when you just need to fund one), use the goals to evaluate your spending habits.

Before you make a major expenditure, ask yourself:

  • Is this absolutely necessary? A new roof qualifies. A new boat doesn’t.
  • How does this impact my goals? Buying a piece of equipment to start a part-time business on the side does. A 50” plasma TV doesn’t?
Put these questions on the refrigerator to remind you to think about your goals every time you are thinking about a big expenditure and they will help you stay focused.

If you keep control of major expenditures, you have a better chance of reaching your goals and more resources to split among multiple goals.


Conflicting goals are a fact of life. Do the best you can to resolve the conflict by allocating your resources in the most efficient manner possible and watch major expenditures.

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