The start of a new year is always a time of reflection and projection. What did you accomplish last year? What do you wish you could change?
Consider these 12 great resolutions (one for each month, perhaps?) from iVillage members.
1. I work on an hourly basis, but my hours change each week, so my weekly paychecks vary between $350 and $450. When I write out my monthly budget, I'm going to use only the lowest amount of my paychecks ($ 350) as income -- if I earn more than that, I'll set it aside. (Set your budget with MoneyLife's cash-flow calculator.)
2. I'm finally going to contribute to my child's college fund -- he's four years old and I haven't done that yet! (See article on the Three Things to Do before Your Child Turns Five.)
3. I'm going to start a vacation-savings account so every two years my family and I can take a trip. (See article on Setting Financial Goals.)
4. I'm going to start a miscellaneous savings account so when I need to get a birthday gift for someone or get new shoes, etc., I won't have to spend the money I have set aside for bills, food, etc. (See article on emergency savings.)
5. When I go to the store and use coupons, I'm going to write out a check to myself (for my own use) for the exact amount I saved in coupons. I hope that doing this will encourage me to use coupons more. (See article on supermarket savvy.)
6. I'm going to use just my debit card and pay it off at the end of the month. I can rent cars with it and use it for paying bills. So there'll really be no need for any other credit cards. (See article on understanding your plastic.)
7. I resolve to save $30 out of every paycheck to start an IRA. (See article on the Nuts and Bolts of IRAs.)
8. I want to cut down on restaurant bills. I'm going to try to limit the times my husband and I go out to eat to two or three times a month instead of two or three times a week. (I've been looking at my spending journals for the past two months, and I'm just shocked at how much we spend on eating out as opposed to buying groceries.) (See the Easy Ways to Save article.)
9. I resolve to continue putting money in savings. I finally started "paying myself" first when I get my paycheck, and I also put money into my husband's savings when he gets paid. It's not a lot, just 2.5 percent of our take-home, but it's going to add up. This year our savings -- not our borrowings on credit cards -- paid for Christmas! (Visit the Savers Circle board.)
10. I want to save money by quitting smoking. My husband and I figure we can save about $175 a month by quitting together. (Visit iVillageHealth's Smoking Cessation Center.)
11. I resolve to step up the rate at which I am paying off my student loans. (See Save on Your Student Loans article.)
12. I'm determined to stop using credit cards and keep plugging along at paying off the ones I have. In March I'll have paid off my highest card -- then I'll put that money toward my other cards. I'll be credit-card-debt free by September 2002. I won't know what to do with all the extra money! (See article on five ways to battle plastic .)