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    Subject: New Year Resolutions to a Better Financial Future Monday 10.01.2005

    New Year Resolutions to a Better Financial Future There could not be a better time to mull over the changes needed in our life style than at the beginning of a New Year. This is also a good time to set yearly goals and make resolutions. Each year, according to statistics, almost a third of us make some kinds of New Year Resolutions. Interestingly, although financial future is our main cause of anxiety, our personal finance, according to surveys, gets only to the fifth place in the list of most common New Year resolutions.

    For those of us who are still in the process of making New Year resolutions, my suggestion is to give high priority to financial aspects.

    Here are some resolution ideas that may change your financial future over the course of time.

    Saving

    Lets make one thing clear! What ever amount of money you make its probably never enough! The way our consumer psychology works is our demand increases along with our income. This makes saving really a problematic task! Some people do have inborn ability to save willingly, but most have to force themselves. If you are one of these people, who find saving a difficult thing, you should consider the methods described below.

    • Commit to yourself that each month you will set aside minimum ten percent of your income for investment purposes.
    • Make a strict habit of depositing 10 percent of all your incomes directly to your saving account.
    • No matter what happens, dont give up.

    You might argue that your income is not enough to make any kind of savings. Believe me, once you try putting away 10 percent of your earnings, you will see that this really does not have any serious impact on your budget.

    So your first resolution is to save ten percent of all your incomes month after month.

    There is hardly any point to save if you dont put your money to work for yourself! So, once you resolved to save, you need to invest your money wisely.

    Credit cards and other consumer loans

    According to New York Times through out the last decade use of credit cards has increased dramatically. The number of the people having credit cards raised about 75 percent from 82 million in 1990 to 144 million in 2003. However, the debt burden that they carry had grown 350 percent from US$338 billion to an astounding US$1.5 trillion. In 2003, according to the same report, average household carried a debt of US$ 7,520 in comparison to US$2,550 in 1990.

    This means that credit card loans are becoming serious problems for average Joe. Thats why the first step of your investment strategy should be to get rid of your consumer debts- especially your credit card loans. Most credit cards have horrendously expensive interest rates normally, 18 percent and over. If you are one of those people, who pay only minimum payment amount each month to their credit cards debt, you are making a great mistake. Check out the calculator at http://www.bankrate.com/brm/calc/MinPayment.asp to see how much you are loosing by not eliminating your credit card debt burden.

    If you are looking for financially sound future, take a hard look at your credit cards and resolve to do the followings:

    • From the savings you started to make, pay off maximum amount of your credit cards debts until you completely eliminate them.
    • If you are unable to pay off the whole amount at once, dont just pay the minimum amount required; pay out as much as you can over that limit.
    • Shop for credit cards with minimum interest rates which should not be more than 12 percent and switch to them.
    • Use credit cards strictly for convenience only. Dont charge to your credit cards unless you know for sure that you will be able to pay it off right away.
    • Minimize the quantity of credit cards you are holding. There is no reason to have more than three credit cards.

    Same goes for your other consumer loans like student, car, etc.

    Mortgage

    The second step of your investment strategy should be to evaluate your mortgage payments. There are several very simple ways of reducing your payment time dramatically. Used scrupulously these methods can lower a 30-year mortgage to 10-15 years.

    • Instead of making one single payment each month, every two weeks pay out half the monthly payment. The idea behind this is, since you are making 26 payments in a year each one of them carrying 50 percent of your monthly payment this is equivalent to 13 monthly payments. You are generating an extra months payment each year, which in turn will reduce your mortgage term substantially.
    • Whenever possible, each month try paying ten percent more than you are supposed to.
    • Whenever you manage to make some extra earnings, use a portion of that to pay down your mortgage.

    The mortgage calculator located at http://www.mortgages-loans-calculators.com/Calculator-Mortgage-Payoff.asp will help you to see your progress.

    Keep track of your expenses

    If you dont do it yet, resolve yourself to keep an expense ledger of all spending. Just the mere act of jotting down all your expenditure will reduce your expenses up to 20 percent. The reason is when you start keeping track of the money you spend, you become more careful and discerning in your buying decisions, which in turn help you cutting back and saving hard earned money.

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