A Fresh Start

Money matters usually rank among people’s top New Year’s resolutions and this year is no different.  MarketWatch reported on one of the many resolution surveys in which “Get out of debt or save money” came in as the number one New Year’s commitment. In fact, 90 percent of survey respondents had a money-related goal on their list, including: reduce spending, create and stick to a budget, seek additional sources of income, and discontinue using credit cards. However, nearly one-third of respondents believe they will break their resolutions by the end of January; three-fourths believe they will do so within three months.

One of the most effective ways to follow through on a goal is to tell someone else about it and invite him or her to ask you about your progress on a regular basis. Here are four of my money-related resolutions for the New Year (I’ll keep you posted on my progress, but if I forget, please ask.)

Switch to an online budget program. I’ve been using a traditional software version of Quicken, but I don’t like the fact that it ties me to one computer. I plan to take a closer look at Mint.com. It’s free and boasts of its ability to track electronic transactions, but I’m looking for a tool that also provides an easy way to track the use of cash.

Start a vegetable garden. Okay, maybe “garden” is going a bit far, but I’d like to get our family in the habit of growing some of our own food. It should save a little money, and I think it will be an enjoyable family activity.

Begin composting. This isn’t about stewarding money; it’s about stewarding the earth. When I read that about 25 percent of what each of us throws away each day is biodegradable, it made me want to put less stuff in the trash.

Take more pictures and give them as gifts. One of my splurges from the past year was a digital SLR camera. In 2009, I plan to do a better job of keeping it with me to capture more of our visits with family and friends. And I plan to be on the lookout for good deals on picture frames so I can give pictures as gifts. A photograph is a timeless winner of a gift–meaningful and inexpensive.

What about you? What are some of your top resolutions for the New Year? Please and let me know.

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