How to stick to your 2011 financial resolutions - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

How to stick to your 2011 financial resolutions

Burlington, Vermont - January 4, 2011

With a new year, comes new resolutions. National surveys say the number one goal-- people want to save more and decrease debt in 2011.

"New Year's Resolution is to basically save more, make sure the budget works," said Bernie Dee, who wants to save more.

"There's so many things that we pay for on a daily basis that we don't really need," said John Rogate, who wants to save more.

"I would probably stop shopping every day on my lunch break," said Lisa Ames, who wants to save more.

"It requires folks to take a hard look at their personal budget," said John Pelletier, the director of the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College.

Pelletier says there are several steps to spending less-- number one, keep track of discretionary purchases; wasted money you could save.

"The coffee they have at the coffee shop or Starbucks or how many times they're having lunch a week, if they actually keep track of their spending for a few months and look at where they are spending it, I think most folks would see there are places where they can spend some money," Pelletier said.

A few more tips:

  • Sit down and create a budget.
  • Divide your expenses between necessary, and discretionary.
  • Then, of those discretionary items that you can live without, cut 20 percent of those impulse buys to start.
  • Take that 20 percent you saved and add it to a savings account, or better yet, a 401(k).

"Most people, if they actually did the exercise, will be surprised on how much is being spent on things that don't fall into the necessaries," Pelletier said.

"If I cut the costs I could save possibly $500 a month," Rogate said.

"Spend 20 bucks everyday-- that's a lot of money a month," Ames said.

And experts have a special mantra to keep those wanting to save on track.

"Saving is paying yourself," Pelletier said.

Experts say investing in your 401(k) if your employer contributes a match is one of the smartest things you can do to save for the long term. Let's say your employer matches 2-to-1-- that pretty much guarantees a 50 percent return. And yet, experts say most people don't try to maximize to the greatest extend they can that match.

Melinda Davenport - WCAX News

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