In tough economic times, it’s easy to panic and lose sight of your long-term financial goals. However, you can turn a slowdown into an opportunity by rethinking your financial objectives — and planning how to achieve them. I’m Haley Lyons with your Bankrate.com Personal Finance Minute.

Buying a home can be a richly rewarding or a devastatingly expensive experience. Savvy buyers do their homework. First, know where you stand financially and how much you can afford to spend. Experts traditionally advise spending no more than 28 percent of your gross income on total home costs. That includes mortgage, property taxes and insurance.

The price of higher education continues to escalate. The first rule of thumb when saving for college is to maximize every dollar you save. For long-term savers who don’t need to pay for college immediately, that means stocks or stock mutual funds, despite the market’s recent downturn.

When saving for retirement, keep a well-diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds and fixed-income instruments. People commonly make the mistake of putting too many eggs in one basket.

To find out more on this and other personal finance issues, log on to Bankrate.com, I’m Haley Lyons. 

Posted: Jan. 30, 2009