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My Financial Resolutions

It's a fresh new year and this is how I am working on my weekly budget.

Financial New Year's Resolution #1: I resolve to not buy stuff I don't need

I've been there. You are in Target and there is 50% off Valentine's Day items and you see the most adorable heart frame. You have to have it, even though you have a stack of photo frames in your pantry. What do you do? Ask yourself if you are going to use it or give it to someone by the end of the year. If the answer is no, pass on it.

Resolution #2: I resolve to pay cash for my purchases

It's tempting to use credit cards on bargains, but what kind of bargain is it if you wind up paying 15% interest on the "bargain" purchase? To avoid using credit cards, plan your purchases ahead of time or control your spending by buying gift cards or only carrying cash to the store.

Financial New Year's Resolution #3: I resolve to think twice before ordering something online

Online shopping is a huge convenience and a money saver, but it can also be a huge temptation. No need to go out in the snow and ice, boot up your computer and there are tons of deals! One trick I've used is if I'm not 100% sure of a purchase, I leave it in my cart and come back to it later. More often than not, I forget about it and I've saved money.

Financial New Year's Resolution #4: I resolve to limit my stockpiling

If you stockpile and love it (like I do), this can be a hard Financial New Year's Resolution to keep. There are several reasons to limit it though. First, rodents and pests are attracted to packaged food. It can be very easy to buy a product (such as one that is grain-based) that already has the pest living in it and it will infest every package of food you have. There go hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars you've invested in your stockpile.

To avoid this problem, do not stock up on grain type food (such as cereal and flour), or limit it. Once a month, check your stockpile for pests and look at expiration dates to see if items should be thrown out. It's a good idea to rotate your stockpile as well to keep using the items. One way I make sure items are getting used is donating every few months to my church food pantry.

Financial New Year's Resolution #5: I resolve to get my overall finances organized

Whether it is picking up Quicken, organizing bills in a filing cabinet, getting ahold of what bills are due is essential. When bills fall through the cracks, then you lose more money with late fees and interest rate increases.

Financial New Year's Resolution #6: I resolve to not go crazy with coupons

When I first started using coupons, I clipped every coupon. If it was a good coupon week, I bought more than one paper. After a few months of this, it became too much work. I started focusing on only clipping those coupons I was going to use. I also paid attention to the items that were regularly on sale (such as Ragu) and stocked up on coupons for those products.

Financial New Year's Resolution #7: I resolve to keep better track of my rebates

Companies love when customers don't cash in rebates or forget to follow up on them. I've been tracking my rebates and other freebies I receive in Excel. In the spreadsheet I list the date sent, company name, dollar amount, company contact information and when I received the offer. Also, if you are sending away a big rebate (for example over $20), be sure to make photocopies and send it certified mail, return receipt. That way, you have proof they received it if you have to follow up on it.