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Getting (and Staying) Financially Fit for the Rest of 2012

Can you believe that February 2012 is already here? Perhaps it seems like yesterday that you made a New Year’s resolution to get financially fit, yet somehow you have already gotten off course. Perhaps your goals were too high or you just need a nudge to get back on track. Consider the following three tips to stay focused on your financial fitness goals.

1. Review your budget for the year
Start with an audit of your January expenses, paying special attention to bills that are paid automatically. Are you already spending more than budgeted in any category? Are you paying for items or services you don’t need? Review bills from your house phone carrier, cell phone plan, satellite/cable provider and others for any charges or features you don’t need or didn’t know you had. For example, are your paying for features like call waiting, extra cell phone minutes or special cable channels that you don’t want or need?

2. Put any extra money to work for you
If you received a salary increase, bonus or expect a tax refund, put a plan in place to direct that income before you make a credit card purchase on impulse. For instance, you can commit to pay down debt (like the credit card with the highest interest rate) or direct dollars to a savings plan. If you don’t plan to put “extra” money to work for you (no matter how little), chances are you will spend and not feel like you received more.

3. Establish your budget for giving gifts in December 2012
It’s never a surprise. The holidays and accompanying pressure to give arrives every single year. Budget for it now! If you don’t, the credit card bills of January 2013 will create more financial stress. Not having a gift budget will likely mean you will spend more money on gifts that you can afford. Plus, if you start planning now, you will be able to save throughout the year.

Small changes in your daily spending (and saving) can keep you on a path to becoming financially fit.

What steps do you plan to follow this year to stick to your budget?

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Posted in Banking Basics, Financial Education.

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