A New Year's Resolution
New Habits Mean Better Finances
by Marcia Davis

The New Year is a great time to reflect and think about your finances. People everywhere make resolutions to change their lives, but many of those resolutions get lost as the months move on. There's a simple reason for this - resolutions can often be large and so world changing that they are difficult to actually accomplish. They can get lost because you begin to think to yourself that "there's always tomorrow".

The key to keeping them is starting small, one objective at a time, and after a while you won't even notice that you are on your way to accomplishing a goal. Little habits broken can mean big changes.

Looking back, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my regrets for the past 12 months?
  • What would I have done differently if I could have?
  • What do I wish I hadn't purchased and why?
  • How much do I wish I had saved?
  • What debts should I have paid off but hadn't?

Keep this in mind: the small financial decisions we make on a daily basis have a huge effect on our lives not only today, but on your long term future as well.

So, let's say you wanted to pay off your credit card in 2002 and that credit card has a balance of $2400. for the next 12 months. It makes sense, then, that you attempt to pay off the card at $200 plus interest per month, you will pay it off in a year. Simple, right? But what if you don't have that money? Consider a creative approach.

Cut Spending Now!
There are always places where a little cut in spending can work. What about cable? Could you afford to downgrade your service? As well, if you don't watch TV very often in the summer, you might want to consider dumping cable altogether.

And what about telephone? If you don't receive a lot of long distance calls, you may want to dump your land line in favor of a cellular phone. In a recent survey of the 48 continental United States, a cellular phone with 500 minutes costs less than the amount you pay for a landline with your conventional telephone company. Plus, this way you can carry your phone wherever you go and never miss a call.

There are more possibilities: restaurant eating, shopping trips or impulse items can always be cut to a minimum. If your goal is accomplished in the time alloted, you will feel a hundred times better than any shopping trip makes you feel.

All it takes is a plan. And the ability to concentrate on the small things. Now try it!

(Marcia Davis is a BRN counselor who has helped educate people about debt for over 10 years. Some of her other articles are included on our website.)

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