New Years Resolutions!

Here are my seven happy-lucky resolution suggestions for a new year:

  1. Resolve to budget!  I’ll admit, I’m biased.  But come on, we’re talking about making a grand total of 12 documents for the whole year.  That’s not nearly as hard as, say, quitting     (insert narcotic/stimulant of choice here)    .  I promise, it’s not as difficult as everyone says it is, and you may enjoy it.
  2. Resolve to reconcile you checking account!  Again, it’s usually not as hard as some would have you believe (unless you’re doing it by hand – then it’s exactly as hard as some would have you believe.)  But, just like resolving to budget, you only need to do it twelve times a year for each account.  You can also make budgeting and reconciling a lot easier by…
  3. Resolve to use a personal finance computer program!  There a several options available.  I would go for one that will at least let you track your spending and reconcile your checking account.  Those are the most labor intensive, day-to-day tasks that need to be done.  I, personally, use Quicken for my personal finances, but there are numerous other good options.  Unlike the previous two resolutions, this is a little more time intensive.  I spend about 20-30 minutes on this every week.
  4. Resolve to keep the filing up!  I’ve saved over one hundred dollars this year alone by keeping my receipts and files in tip-top shape.  I’ve done this mainly by having my proof of purchase available to take advantage of returns and such; but I’ve also been able to spot errors on bank statements, which are much more consequential.  Setting up a filing system does take some time:  it took me about 20 hours to set mine up.  Once it’s set up, though, it doesn’t take much to keep it going.
  5. Resolve to keep lifestyle inflation in check!  Are you making more this year? No?  Then don’t go off spending more.  Lifestyle inflation is the tendency to spend a little more on ourselves over time.  The problem is, time can pass without an increase in income, but we still increase expenses.  Not cool.  A good way to prevent that is to…
  6. Resolve to spend less time in front of a screen!  It’s easy to spend a little too much time on the tv or internet.  In addition to making us a pale, hunched mess, spending a lot of time in front of a screen subjects us to large numbers of commercials.  Ok, ok,  you have a will of steel, and the commercials have no effect on you.  Fine.  The shows themselves often subtly skew your sense of normalcy.  Case in point: “Friends”.  Despite being based in New York and being only quasi-employed, all the characters had spacious apartments and lots of personal goods.  While “Friends” may be a particularly egregious example, I’m sure you find more examples that are subtler and more up to date.  And don’t get me started on product placement.  Finally…
  7. Resolve to turn your economic frown up-side-down!  There’s been a lot of negative news about the economy for the last two years, which is understandable.  Nevertheless, just because the country’s doing badly doesn’t mean that you’re doing badly.  Keep things in perspective.  Take control of the things you can control, and make readiness plans for the things you can’t.  (And if you’re one of the folks who are legitimately having a hard time, feel free to ignore this resolution.  Sometimes you just gotta frown.)

Let me know what your resolutions are in the comments!

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