Vanguard issued a timely release this week laying out a nine-step program for investors to take charge of their financial lives in 2003.

Notwithstanding the fund industry’s typical exhortations, Vanguard’s No. 1 tip is to invest for long-term financial goals. No. 2 is diversification.

The nation’s second-biggest fund company also suggests that investors set realistic goals and not expect to consistently outperform the financial markets.

Vanguard, known for the low fees on its index and exchange-traded funds, also reminds investors to minimize fund costs.

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