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Now is the right time to get started in taking control of your financial future.

Take control of your finances right now

Investing doesn't have to be scary or overwhelming.

But for many people it is. Here are some simple steps that may help you on the road to a better financial future:

• Educate yourself about financial matters. You don't have to become an expert; you just have to become an informed consumer.

Attending a public seminar on planning for retirement or reading financial columns in newspapers, magazines or on the Web are simple ways you can begin your financial education.

• Start now. The money you save today will have a chance to compound; that is, to earn money not only on the original principal but also on any interest or earnings.

If you don't have any extra money, start squeezing pennies. Identify where you can cut back and direct those savings to a monthly investment program. Remember Benjamin Franklin's old adage: Money makes money and the money money makes makes more money.

• Take advantage of employer plans. If you are a business owner, consider offering a retirement plan that both you and your work force could benefit from.

If you are an employee, consider taking advantage of any plan that may already be in place. Invest at least enough to get the company match, if one is offered.

• Check out 529 Plans. If you have children, 529 college savings plans might be a great way to help fund their college education. Money set aside in these plans is not subject to federal income tax — although state income tax may apply.

• Diversify your investments. Investing is a lot like gardening. You plant different types of flowers to bloom at different times of the year. In the financial world, you should consider different types of investments to help you weather the inevitable ups and downs in the economy and the markets.

• Watch out for the tax man. There are many ways to invest without incurring an immediate tax on your earnings. Eliminating or deferring taxes give you the potential to build a bigger nest egg. Experts suggest learning more about such tax-advantaged investments as 401(k) plans, Roth IRAs, municipal bond mutual funds and annuities.

• Take control of your financial future. You can build a secure financial future for yourself. Start today.

  • Pitch It & Forget It
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