Monday, December 28, 2009

Getting Financially Fit for 2010


Nan Jensen, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
The year 2010 is right around the corner and many of us are considering our resolutions for the year ahead. After two years of recession and the high unemployment rate, it seems that a resolution that includes rethinking where you are financially and where you would like to be should be on the list.
Here are some important priorities to consider for the year ahead.

Develop a spending plan that allows you to live within your means. Simply, spend less than you earn. There are many ways you can budget your money. Buy in bulk (if it’s cheaper), shop sales, cook at home more often, and use coupons if you can. Eat out only on special occasions.
Take small steps to help you get your spending under control. On a weekly basis, try to find a simpler and less expensive way to do the same thing. If you’re going out to lunch with co-workers every day, enjoy lunch out just once a week and brown bag it the rest of the time. Bring your own beverages and snacks to work instead of making daily visits to the vending machine. Adjust the thermostat on the air conditioner in the summer a couple of degrees higher. Think about small things you can do to cut back.

Find a way to track your expenses. Cut and paste the link below into your browser to access an Excel spreadsheet to help you with your plan.

Pay off debt. The average American has more than $9,000 in credit card debt. Then there is the mortgage and a car loan. School loan debt is high among recent graduates. The first step in getting out of debt is to stop borrowing.
If you have debts on more than one credit card, either pay off the card with the highest interest rate first and work your way down to the card with the lowest rate, or pay off the smallest loan first and work your way up to the largest. Power Pay can help.
Remember to make payments on time. Paying on time, over time, is the best way to improve your credit history.

Pay yourself first. Each month, set aside a specific amount of money for savings. It could be $50 or $500. Savings as little as $50 a month can add up over time. See what how the miracle of compounding works at

For more information on getting in good financial shape for the new year join me for a webinar entitled “Get in Good Financial Shape for the New Year” on January 13. Go to the Pinellas County Extension website at and click on the on-line registration button.


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