Resolve to Improve Your Finances in 2004

James H. Dimmitt

Kick off 2004 with these 7 money resolutions and get a fresh financial start to the new year. At years end, youll be surprised at how much youve reduced your debt load and the money youve saved!

1) I will create and use a budget.

A budget helps you see exactly where your money is going from week to week and month to month. Creating and using a budget, no matter what your income level, will help you reach your financial goals more easily than without one.

2) I will use my budget to help reduce my credit card debts.

Lets say you are able to save $20 a month by budgeting your money. You could take that $20 and place it in a savings account where you would earn minimal interest. Or you could use that same $20 and add it to your budgeted credit card payment reducing your credit debt in two ways. Youll be reducing the amount you owe your creditor and youll also reduce the finance charge on next months bill.

3) I will pay more than the minimum due on my credit card bills.

If you just pay the minimum due on credit card bills, you’ll barely cover the interest you owe. It will take you years to pay off your balance and you’ll end up spending thousands of dollars more than the original amount you charged.

4) I will make my payments on time and avoid late fees.

Making late payments adds to your debt load and may increase the annual percentage rate (APR) your creditors charge you. Additionally, late payments are reported to the credit reporting agencies and negatively affect your credit rating.

5) I will not use my credit card at an ATM or a bank for a cash advance.

Cash advances on credit cards are assessed special fees and higher interest rates than what you pay for purchases made with your credit card. Creditors apply the majority of your monthly payment to your purchase debt rather than cash advance debt which increases the overall amount of interest youll pay to your creditor.

6) I will spend my money sensibly.

Using your budget, you may find that youre spending a good chunk of your income on discretionary items: morning coffee and donut, a weekly magazine, fast food lunches, etc. Each purchase seems like a small amount of money at the time, maybe $3-5. But these small purchases add up quickly and amount to hundreds of dollars a year. Ask yourself if you really need these items and reduce your amount of discretionary spending. Use your savings to pay down credit card debt.

7) I will live within my means.

Are you an impulse buyer? Do you use your credit cards to supplement your income? Do you feel the need to have the latest fashions, cars, stereos, etc.? If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are good that you are overspending. And overspending means more debt – debt that will keep you from achieving your financial goals.

© 2003,

James H. Dimmitt
James is editor of To Your Credit a FREE weekly newsletter for consumers. You can subscribe at [email protected]


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