If you are in your 20s, 30s, or even 40s and want to make a fresh, solid start in your financial life, some up-front organization and exchange traded funds (ETFs) can put you on the right track.

First, you must start a the beginning and envision where you want to be in 5 years. Consider what pitfalls you’d like to avoid such as student loans or borrowing from your parents.

Sue Stevens for MorningStar advises that you set up priorities and guidelines year-to-year and if you have competing goals you may need to take a multi-year approach. By making progress each year on a goal, you will have taken the first step.

By making the right choices about how you spend your money as well as setting aside an emergency fund – at least six months of living expenses – you are ready to start building your core portfolio.

ETFs are a great financial tool to help you get started on the building blocks. Broad based funds like Vanguard total Stock Market ETF (VTI) or Vanguard Emerging MarketsETF (VWO) allow one-stop shopping for your investments.

By understanding your assets and liabilities and setting priorities for your goals your future will beset up for much more success.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.