“To achieve happiness in life, first you’ve got to get rid of the turkeys.”

-Bob Kraft, owner New England Patriots, on CNBC, 6-13-2008 –

The beginning of a new year can be a catalyst to personal improvement. What advice would I give my kids if they asked? For better or worse the human side of life is inextricably interwoven with the financial side. Ignore one to the other’s peril. On one end are the macro-economic issues we can’t control, and on the other end are the tactical financial moves that are best accomplished one-on-one. I’d like to cover the middle ground that I believe is achievable for most. I understand that all people make value choices in their lives. Also, this list is far from all-inclusive.

As for necessities: a vehicle with a low cost of ownership, healthful food, and reasonable shelter. Don’t replace high gas prices with new car payments. If you drive 15,000 miles per year, get 20 miles per gallon, and gas goes up $2.00 per gallon, that’s $1500 per year. That’s only about 3 or 4 car payments.

Renting, in certain situations, can be more economical and flexible than buying.

Having a job you love is priceless. You produce more, earn more, and live longer. You should have no more bad days than if you never worked at all. Even then, you’ve got to get away at times.

No matter what you do, under-promise and over-deliver.

Force yourself to fund retirement plans. Start early and small if you must, then increase steadily. This should take priority over funding children’s educations. That can always get done, but you can’t go back and defer taxes in years gone by.

Consider taking out shorter term mortgages. This may provide you with a more reasonable home with lower taxes, utilities, repairs, and interest. If it’s feasible later, do it again.

Credit cards are hazardous to your financial health for numerous reasons: They increase the propensity to spend, the interest is high and is not tax deductible. Credit cards could easily warrant a whole column.
Don’t keep up with the Joneses. There will always be bigger Joneses.

It is advisable to get a second opinion before investing in a company you also work for.

Exercise and pay attention to healthcare. This benefits longevity, family, and earnings capacity. It also helps with medical insurance, prescriptions, and medical bills, especially as we move into the era of high deductibles.

Pursue tax advantaged investment strategies with the help of a financial advisor.

Assume that everything will change, like tax rates, technology, and competition, to name a few. Think of the worst that could happen, and what you would do if it did. When I was about 12 years old, my friends would swim across the lake. “Ah…fellas, I’ll meet you on the other side, and by the way, don’t get a cramp on the way over.”

Have a financial advisor, meet regularly, and ask tough questions. Address estate planning. You’re going to leave your assets to whom? And how will this be accomplished? Suitability is paramount in investing.

Feed the mind with positive reading, positive media, and positive people.

Sal Petralia is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional and Registered Principal with LPL Financial, 5621 Strand Blvd. Unit 102, Naples, Fla, 34110; Tel. 239-596-7822; Email;

Securities offered through LPL Financial Member FINRA/SIPC

The opinions voiced in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of LPL Financial and are for general information only and are not intended to offer specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment is appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.

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