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Define Your Goals

This knowledge article is part of a series of knowledge articles aimed to help you define your roadmap to savings and investing. To review the table of contents for the articles, click here.
What are the things you want to save and invest for … 

A home? A new car? Your education or that of a child? A comfortable retirement? The needs of your parents?

All of these goals will cost money. To make sure that you will have enough money when you need it, follow this process:

  • Make your own list and then think about which goals are the most important to you. List your most important goals first.

  • Decide how many years you have to meet each specific goal, because when you save or invest you'll need to find a savings or investment option that fits your time frame for accomplishing each goal. Knowing how much time you have will help you decide how much risk you can take on.

  • Use available tools to help you put your financial plan together. For example, U.S. Department of Labor offers an online worksheet to help you calculate what you'll need to save each year for retirement. And the Consumer's Almanac, published by the American Financial Services Association Education Foundation guides you step-by-step as you organize your finances, plan for the future, and learn to manage your credit.

How much does a cup of coffee a day cost you?

Would you believe $465.84?

If you buy a $1.00 cup of coffee every day (and people can pay a lot more!), that adds up to $365.00 a year. If you saved that $365.00 for just one year, and put it into a savings account or investment that earns 5 percent a year, it would grow to $465.84 by the end of five years, and by the end of 30 years, to $1,577.50.

That's the power of compounding. With compound interest on the money you save and on the interest that money earns. Over time, even a small amount saved can add up to big money. If you are willing to watch what you spend and look for little ways to save on a regular schedule, you can make money grow. You just did it with one cup of coffee.

To save more, you'll need to figure out your current finances and where you can achieve real savings. You're ready for the next leg of your trip