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When Financial Goals Collide


Managing multiple goals is a major challenge for most investors.  Saving for your kids’ college can derail you from your own retirement plans or your ability to help care for an aging parent.

To get what you want most, first decide which goals will take priority and work toward the lesser goals only after you have provided for the really important ones.  Depending on your stage of life, there are many things you can do to manage multiple goals.

20s – 30s:  Time Is On Your Side

Twenty and 30-year-olds are typically concerned with the balancing act of paying off debt from school loans and investing in their future.  Whether you are paying for a wedding, saving for a down payment on a first home, planning a family or starting a retirement fund, the good news is that time is on your side.  Do not underestimate the power of compounding – even a small amount of money can earn interest, and each year that interest is applied to a growing sum of money. 

For example, let’s say you start saving for retirement at age 20.  For the next 10 years you put $2,000 a year in an IRA, earning 8% annually, and then you stop.  Your savings will be $428,000 at age 65.  If you don’t start saving until age 30, however, and put $2,000 away per year for the next 35 years, earning 8% annually you would only have $345,000 at age 65. 

Clearly, the best thing you can do in your 20s and 30s is to get rid of your debt as quickly as possible and start saving early.  


40s – 50s:  The Sandwich Generation

The “sandwich generation” is that group of baby boomers struggling to simultaneously pay for their children’s education, support their aging parents and save for their own retirement.  Here are some tips for balancing those goals: 

  • Determine your short- and long-term financial objectives.

  • Develop a realistic plan for accomplishing your goals.

  • Explore different investment products or vehicles for different goals, considering your timeframe and cash flow requirements.

  • Put your plan on autopilot by using utilizing direct deposit and automatic withdrawals to minimize your risk of derailment.

  • Update your financial goals regularly.

Get Help

No matter what stage of life you’re in, a qualified financial advisor can offer advice on balancing multiple objectives and help chart the path to meeting your goals.


American Express Financial Advisors Inc. Member NASD. American Express Company is separate from American Express Financial Advisors Inc. and is not a broker-dealer.

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