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April Guest Column

April 1, 2015

I first became aware of investing when my father gave me 300 shares of a gold mining stock for my college graduation. I was an avid saver but it wasn't until 1974 that I bought my own stock: Caldor's. All investing was done through brokers then because they had all the information.

Today is the antithesis of that. We all have too much information at our fingertips and no knowledge of how to apply it. We need a filtering system for context, perspective and a plan. My advice is to start early, as early as you can. Saving money is like Chinese water torture-over a long period of time it has significant impact. and whatever needed to be done.

We take risks daily in our lives, like getting married, starting a business, driving Route 7 and we double in 7.2 years. Get an advisor for the tough times until you develop your own skills.

There are a few basics to keep in mind for creating a balanced financial life. Set up a regular savings deduction out of your pay. Keep debt to a minimum. Only use debt on appreciating assets. Insure those risks that can derail your plan, ie. life, health, home, income. Sit down once a year and review your plan. Have an emergency fund of at least 6 months in cash. Then when your child is arrested coming across the border from Mexico after a vacation with his buddies, you can fly down and visit him in jail and hire a lawyer.

The strength of a balanced financial life isn't about money itself. It's about independence, choices, taking advantage of opportunities, reducing stress. And that will be beneficial to all concerned.

Author: Sue Katz

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