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By Sheryl Nance-Nash. Special to Newsday

As with climbing a ladder, it is wise to have a plan, experts say, especially if you are preparing to invest your hard-earned money. Photo Credit: iStock

As you say goodbye to one year and usher in another, what would you do over? And what do you want going forward? Money matters may top the list. Are you ready to start investing, or take your investing to the next level? Here's what the pros suggest:

Diversify: Spread risk -- you'll sleep better. "Don't bet everything on a single stock or a small group ofinvestments. One way to achieve diversity is to use low-cost exchange-traded funds," says Morgan Downey, CEO of in Manhattan.

Have a strategy: Some people invest with one idea in mind: making money. "This is an outstanding goal,but don't be blind to other priorities, such as tax efficiency, managing risk and reviewing asset allocation," says Robert Traina, a financial adviser with CUNA Brokerage Services in Westbury. Set goals.

Check your emotions at the door: "Don't let emotions get in the way. Neither fear nor greed has a placeat the table when it comes to investments. Fear prompts panic selling, while greed is driven by past performance, which does not predict future returns. Keep a level head," says Traina.

Do your homework: "You need to be confident and knowledgeable to have conviction. Managing yourmoney takes work. Read, read, read; it will give insight into long-term trends. Political, social and economic news are all relevant to your portfolio," says Keith Lanton, president of Lantern Investments in Melville.

Be patient: Says Harrine Freeman, CEO of H.E. Freeman Enterprises in Bethesda, Maryland, "You haveto keep your money invested for at least seven years to see a return."

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