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Secrets of 6 top financial advisers

Some of the financial planning profession's most respected veterans reveal their favorite strategies for tough times.

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The secret to balancing goals
The secret to balancing goals
Years in business: 14
Client assets: $40 million
Known for: Wrote "The Young Couple's Guide to Growing Rich Together"
Make long-term targets No.1

Jill Gianola - The family's helper
Gianola Financial Planning, Columbus, Ohio

I start with clients' longest-term goals first - usually retirement - and see what it would take to fund those. Then I work backward. Their second-longest- term goal is often their children's college. The furthest goals are usually the big ones; if you don't start working on them now, you're not going to make it.

People are willing to rearrange their short-term goals - "Okay, we can't buy the house for another couple of years" - but they don't necessarily want to postpone retirement. You have to make progress on several fronts to make sure you get to the finish line.Start with the minimum. With a 401(k), the minimum is to get the match. For me the minimum on a credit card is what it takes to pay it off in three years. If you have enough to meet both goals, you're good to go.

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Last updated December 10 2008: 1:46 PM ET
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