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Happy New Year!

By Dian Vujovich

It’s the beginning of a new year, a new decade and I’m hoping one that brings with it a new outlook. Oh, plus market returns in 010 equal to those of ’09.

Given all the Hatfield and McCoy yipping and complaining about our economy we’ve heard from TV and radio talking heads over the past few months, you’d think that nobody made any money in ’09. And you’d be wrong.

Wall Street, last year, had one heck of a good year.

Okay, so what if it was a roller coaster ride? Nobody honest ever said making money was easy.

In 2009, the S&P 500 ended the year up around 24 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, up 18. Terrific returns no matter who’s counting—conservatives or liberals, worker-bees or retirees.

Equity funds, of course, didn’t disappoint either. The average U.S. diversified fund was up over 31 percent, through December 24, according to Lipper Inc.

Eye-popping returns found their ways into the pockets of those who had invested in Latin American funds, the average return for the 34 funds in this category was up 110 percent. Next in top-performance line were emerging markets funds–they returned over 73 percent on average; global science/technology funds, up nearly 70 percent; and basic materials funds, up 67 percent.

One doesn’t have to be an economist to know that matching or surpassing those kinds of returns won’t be easy. But, it can happen.

In 2010, I’m hoping we all pay more attention to our own personal money management skills rather than close a blind-eye to them; stretch a little and take an investment risk or two when an opportunity to do so arises; and use our credit cards less. It makes absolutely no sense at all to pay double-digit interest rates on purchases when our savings accounts are returning under 1 percent.

Monday the game begins again. Until then, consider doing those three things I just mentioned in the previous paragraph and this year will be a financially rewarding one for you and yours.

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