11 things to know about investing in 2011 — #11 Start with a goal in mind

11. Start with a goal in mind. Thinking about why you are investing—to buy a house, to send the kids to college, or for your own retirement—will not only help to motivate you, but should also give you a better sense of how much you need and when you need it.

Saving for retirement will likely require a few financial sacrifices and some planning. Dedicating this time, money, and energy will be easier if you keep the end goal firmly front-of-mind: whether that is never being dependent upon family in your old age, being able to travel every year,  or buying that retirement home somewhere warm. This kind of thinking will help you stay focused on what you are gaining in the future, instead of the sometimes painful savings decisions you are making today.

This positive goal-oriented thinking works for all savings projects, both short- and long-term. And by setting up an automatic deposit into your savings account, the savings process will be even less “painful.” According to a nationwide survey commissioned by the Consumer Federation of America found that 83% of Americans agree the “most effective way to build personal savings is to do so automatically by agreeing in advance to transfer funds regularly from a paycheck or checking to savings or investments.”

Attaining financial security takes planning, dedication, action and sacrifice. But it is well worth the investment. As you plan your goals for 2011, put “Develop a plan for financial security” at the top of the list.

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