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Re$olution: finance

Published:Saturday | January 16, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Randy Bowman, Gleaner Writer

So last year, you came close to your breakpoint because although you managed to hold on to your job, the finances were just not working out. The economic tremor rocked many national economies and your little piggy bank was not spared.

And with increased taxes, higher cost of living and possibly more financial responsibilities this year, it could be another rough 12 months.

These realities make it even more interesting that improving your finances is one of your top resolutions for 2010, and it's one goal you are determined to attain.

But the hard, cold truth is that with the pressing demands and increased cost of living, you will have to make lifestyle changes to make 2010 different from the past year.

Doing the same things in the same way, year after year, will not reap different results.

More important, research shows that many people become depressed when they are in financial problems. You want to ensure that you are in good emotional health, so that you are in a better position to exploit your financial opportunities.

Here are a few tips that may help you:

1. Conserve and save

This is as easy as it sounds. Start with the simpler things first, such as replacing the incandescent bulbs in your house, turning off the lights, appliances and pipes when they are not in use, and ironing once a week. Within a month, you should notice a reduction in at least your electricity bill.

2. Find cheaper insurance

This can be a tricky one and it should not be tackled without expert advice. But in today's competitive market, there are always options. Call your agent and discuss the possible alternatives as well as other firms. Unless your Umbilical cord is tied to a specific company, go ahead make a switch where there are benefits to doing so.

3. Stop fighting that will

Many persons have long had writing a will on their to-do list. We're urging you to actually make it happen in 2010. If you already have a will, ensure it's updated. Knowing the loved ones you've left behind will be cared and provided for will be a huge weight off their mind. We know it's not the easiest on this list, but it might be the most important and can help to avoid added emotional stress in the event of death.

4. Make money from your hobby

Instead of doing nothing on Saturday mornings, get up and do something fun that can earn some dough. For instance, taking pictures, selling some of those paintings you have hanging around, tutoring (if qualified), babysitting, grooming and breeding dogs.

5. Just spend less!

This isn't easy, especially for shopaholics like myself. But we all need to in order to make it through these tough times. Other ways to shop smarter and spend less include buying only what is needed at the supermarket, partying less (another hard one but we have to), carpooling or even taking the bus.

6. Set up an automatic savings plan

If you don't already have one, even $1,000 a month is a fine place to start. Call it rainy-day money and don't mess with it - except to increase the allotment.

7. Drop expensive habits

How many people do you know who have actually won the lottery? Stop wasting precious money on these games you have a small chance of winning. The stinking habit of smoking needs to go too. A pack of cigarettes costs $600. If you smoke a pack a week, and you decide to quit the habit, you could end up with a whopping $18,000 in just over seven months! That money could be invested in a credit union or put away as part of you retirement savings.

Certainly, there may be many other ways you may improve your finances this year. Give deep thoughts to them before you act and remember, there is nothing wrong with sharing the ideas with close friends or better yet financial experts.