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Keeping Up with Long-term Financial Goals

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Americans could use a bit more discipline when it comes to saving money for their long-term goals, especially with all the distractions that arise day to day.About three out of four Americans say that the pace of society today makes it harder for them to stay focused on their long-term financial goals, according to a study by Northwestern Mutual.

Just achieving financial security is becoming more of a challenge, much less saving for retirement. Yet financial matters are the top areas in life where Americans do set goals. About 72 percent of those surveyed said they set financial goals, followed by 62 percent who set family goals and 57 percent who set fitness goals, the survey found.

And their financial goals aren’t exactly lofty. About 78 percent of those surveyed just want to maintain a comfortable standard of living in retirement and protect their income in the event of a disability, according to the Northwestern Mutual survey. Somewhat surprisingly, only 47 percent of respondents said their goal was to be rich, namely by having a “sizable investment portfolio,” the bank reported.And beyond financial goals, Americans are having trouble sticking to diet and fitness goals as well, despite greater awareness of the serious negative health effects of obesity.

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There are reliable strategies than can help you stay focused, however. Setting modest interim to reach on your way to your long-term goals especially helps, survey respondents said. And as with dieting, it’s OK when you make mistakes as long as you hold yourself accountable to them.

“All across America, people have become more risk-sensitive and are pursuing financial security on a more realistic path. The challenge now is sticking with it,” said Greg Oberland, Northwestern Mutual executive vice president. “As with anything else that is difficult, for those who have the discipline and the patience, the rewards can be extraordinary. Whether it is finances, career, diet or fitness, sticking with it pays dividends.”

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