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Life Goals: Financial Essentials For Your 30's

Here are several financial steps you may want to consider taking right now:

1. Save for retirement.

401(k) and 403(b) plans through your employer allow you to invest funds, tax-deferred, in a painless and regular way.

Withdrawals of earnings are taxable as ordinary income and, if taken prior to age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty.

2. Pay off consumer debt.

Paying off high-interest debt is the first way to begin saving. Pay off a credit card as soon as possible to avoid paying monthly interest.

3. Consider mutual funds.

Mutual funds can be a way to invest while minimizing the risks associated with owning individual stocks and bonds. Work with an advisor to find funds that match your needs and goals.

4. Analyze benefits from your employer.

Make sure that you're using your benefits to your advantage, including retirement plans, insurance, health coverage and even group discounts.

5. Write a Simple Will and a Living Will.

If you die without a Simple Will to distribute your property, your loved ones will be put in a difficult legal position. A Living Will can help them make medical decisions if you become seriously ill.

6. Review insurance needs.

Review your coverage for auto, life and disability insurance. Do you have enough coverage for yourself and your family in case of emergency?

7. Begin an education savings plan.

If you have children, or plan to, begin saving now for their education. With education costs soaring, starting early is important for building up a fund.

8. Anticipate housing needs.

Consider a separate savings plan to finance moving or expansion to accommodate a growing family or aging parents.

9. Name a guardian for your children.

Protect your children by legally naming the person responsible for them should you and your partner die.