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Creative ways to manage multiple financial goals

Doing a balancing act to juggle different financial goals? See what these folks did.

We all face challenging financial demands. You can take some juggling tips from people who found creative and inspiring ways to manage such situations — and wisely maintain retirement savings as a top priority.

Staying flexible by staying (almost) debt free

Like many others in their age group, Fabi and Larry Preslar, both 49, of Mint Hill, NC, are part of the so-called sandwich generation. They're financially responsible for their daughter, 23, who's a senior in college, and cover day-to-day expenses for Larry's father, 75, who has Alzheimer's and lives nearby in his own home. They expect they'll have to support him entirely when his money runs out in a few years.

How do they manage?

  • The Preslars, who run their own graphic design firm, are paying tuition out of their savings and living modestly in the process.
  • They each have a tax-deferred retirement account, and neither account has been tapped to cover expenses. Says Fabi proudly: "Our IRAs are still intact."
  • The couple aims to be debt free, other than their mortgage, and strenuously avoids using credit cards. "If we can't afford it, we don't buy it," Fabi says. "We had to put tuition on our credit card in December, but we plan to pay it off within two months."

Not surprisingly, the couple is looking forward to their daughter's graduation: "So we can save more for retirement," Fabi says, "and enjoy being empty nesters."

Fast Facts: Public four-year colleges charged, on average, $7,605 per year in tuition and fees for in-state students in 2010, according to the College Board. Private nonprofit four-year colleges charge, on average, $27,293 per year in tuition and fees.

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Retirement professionals are sales representatives for the members of the Principal Financial Group. Except under certain circumstances, they do not represent, offer or compare products and services of other financial services organizations.


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