What's really important to you?

A young couple sitting at the kitchen table with their son breaking open a piggy bank with a small hammer. Although many of us share common goals (saving for a car, a home or retirement are a few popular ones), yours will be as individual as you are. Your goals will result from your values and the priorities you establish as a result.

For example, one person might value financial security. For her, paying off her mortgage and saving up for a comfortable retirement might take precedence over shorter-term goals like buying a new car, renovating her home or taking a vacation every year.

Another person might value acquiring experiences. He might choose to live in an apartment rather than committing time and money to owning a house, and to work on contract so he can travel for extended periods.

There’s no right or wrong approach. The important thing is that you think about what you want to get out of your life — and then create a strategy to use your money to attain it. Here are some examples of the kinds of things that might influence how you choose to earn, spend and save money:

Once you’ve considered your values and priorities, it’s time to start setting some goals based on them.