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Indiana Securities Division

Securities Division > Indiana MoneyWise > News You Can Use > Protect Your Pockets 2010 Resolutions Protect Your Pockets Series

Resolve to be Money Smart in 2010

(originally published December 2009)

As the calendar changes to a new year, Hoosiers across the state are taking the opportunity to start fresh by resolving to change their behavior for the better. Many will use this time of year to review their financial situation and commit to improving their money management behaviors. Hoosiers are still facing the effects of the recession, so it’s no surprise that many 2010 New Year’s resolutions will focus on being smart with money.

Some financial experts are pushing consumers to spend more to help stimulate the economy. Other experts are encouraging consumers to save their money for future rainy days. So who’s right? To a certain extent, both are. Managing your money well requires a balancing act between spending now and saving for later. It’s important to commit to spending within your means while continually saving for the future and staying out of debt.

To help stay on track with your spending, first get an idea of where your money is going. We often don’t realize how much we spend, whether it’s grabbing a coffee every morning on our way to work or eating out a few times a week. Maintain a log of everything you spend money on for a week. Categorize your expenses into things you need (i.e. rent, insurance) and things you want (i.e. vacations, entertainment). If your expenses exceed your income, reevaluate where your money’s going and cut back on the items you want, but don’t necessarily need. The website http://www.mint.com/ is an excellent tool to help you track your spending and may reveal some spending patterns you should shift to strike more of a balance.

In addition to spending within your means, commit to saving a portion of your income each month. In tough economic times, it can be hard to look beyond your current financial struggles. However, it’s important to plan for tomorrow by saving today. To help stay motivated, save for a specific goal like buying your first home or paying for college tuition.

Also, consider your long-term needs like planning for retirement. Take advantage of your company’s 401(k) program or set up an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), if possible a Roth IRA, to start saving. To determine how much money you will need to retire and how much you should save each month to accumulate that amount, use the retirement calculators on http://www.indianainvestmentwatch.com/.

Here are some additional tips to help you make healthy resolutions for your finances:

  • Create a budget and stick to it. Have a monthly plan for your money that includes how much you’ll spend on fixed expenses like rent and car insurance and flexible expenses like food and clothing. Also note how much you’ll save, invest and donate. Throughout the month, keep track of where your money actually goes and reevaluate your budget as needed.
  • Be credit card smart. Avoid charging more than you can actually afford and pay your bill in full each month. Most cards have interest rates that increase the total amount you end up paying if you don’t pay your bill on time. Even if you can’t pay in full each month, strive to pay more than the minimum payment to avoid additional fees.
  • Rely on a friend or family member to keep you accountable. Deciding to improve your money management behaviors is a long-term commitment. Having a support system will increase your chances of seeing your resolutions through 2010 and beyond.

For more money management tips, visit the “Personal Finance 101” section on http://www.indianainvestmentwatch.com/.

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