1. Write down each of your goals on a 3x5-inch card.
2. Create two stacks--goals you want to accomplish within the next five years or less and goals that will take longer than five years (you'll save for these goals differently).
3. Sort the cards within each stack in order of priority, based on how hard you are willing to work or save to reach each goal. Make retirement a priority.
4. Write on each card what you need to do to accomplish that goal, plus when, what it will cost, and how much you'll need to save each month to reach your goal.
5. Set priorities again, creating a "dream" stack and a "reality" stack to guide your saving and spending.
6. Create a snapshot of your finances by calculating your net worth--the total value of what you own minus what you owe. Include items such as personal possessions, vehicles, home and other real estate, share draft/checking and savings accounts, insurance policies, stocks, and retirement plans. On the liabilities side, consider your home mortgage, credit card debt, student or auto loans, and taxes/capital gains owed.
7. Envision your retirement and the monthly resources you'll need in retirement, along with when you want to retire.
8. Estimate how large your nest egg will need to be to "buy" your retirement goal.
9. Use a worksheet or software program to help calculate how much you'll need to save every month and the return on investment you'll need to reach your goal. For help with your retirement planning, go to planit.cuna.org.
10. Create a spending plan for your monthly income that starts with your "payment" to your retirement savings plan designed to build the resources you'll need for the retirement you desire.
From "Savings Fitness: A Guide to Your Money and Your Financial Future," made available to consumers by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Certified Planner Board of Standards.