repost­ed from NYDailyNews.com
by: Fran Gold­en
Decem­ber 31, 2012

Don’t feel too guilty if you could­n’t resist that last-minute gift-buy­ing binge last week.
 
It’s time to put 2012 behind and make res­o­lu­tions that will put you on firm finan­cial foot­ing for the com­ing year.
 
Assess­ing the con­di­tion of your finan­cial state at the start of a new year just makes sense, said Mack­ey McNeill, a cer­ti­fied pub­lic accoun­tant and author of “The Inter­sec­tion of Joy and Mon­ey.”
 
“Some things you can fix over the short term and some the long term,” McNeill said.
 
“Look at mak­ing good deci­sions rather than depriv­ing your­self, and even turn­ing it into fun.“Here are ways to improve your finan­cial foot­ing in 2013.
 
Bud­get. Make this the year you actu­al­ly make a bud­get — and stick to it.
 
“With tools like Quick­en and Mint.com it’s easy to track your spend­ing, and once you see it all you’ll real­ize how much choice you have,” says McNeill. “It helps in see­ing what’s impor­tant.
 
Talk to the fam­i­ly. Kids should be involved in finan­cial plan­ning, said Mark Bru­inooge, CEO of Tykoon.com, a mon­ey man­age­ment site for chil­dren.
 
“There’s a lot of, ‘I want’ from the kids. Sit down and have a con­ver­sa­tion where every­one con­tributes and sets goals for the fam­i­ly,” he sug­gest­ed.
 
And get the kids involved in sav­ing — for, say, a fam­i­ly vaca­tion.
 
Return stuff/sell stuff. See all those presents around the tree you don’t want? Return it or sell it on eBay.
 
While you’re at it, take the junk in your clos­et to a con­sign­ment shop and clear out any gold you don’t use from your jew­el­ry box and sell that, too. It’s found mon­ey — and should be put away for a rainy day.
 
Vow to save. Your moth­er was right, those pen­nies add up. Set a sav­ings goal and have the mon­ey auto­mat­i­cal­ly deduct­ed from you pay­check if you don’t have the dis­ci­pline to put it in the bank your­self.
 
“The point is to cre­ate a new habit,” said McNeill.
 
Just don’t set the mark too high, she sug­gest­ed. But if you have spe­cif­ic goals, such as buy­ing a car or tak­ing a vaca­tion, con­sid­er sep­a­rate sav­ings accounts for each item.
 
Pay off cred­it cards. You’ve heard it before, but get rid of those high inter­est cards first — they are cost­ing you big bucks.Pay them off by send­ing more than the min­i­mum pay­ment each month. Set a goal of get­ting down to no more than two cards.
 
Watch spend­ing. Sales are tempt­ing, but “stop spend­ing on dumb stuff,” said Grant Car­done, busi­ness author and star of TV’s “Turn­around King.”
 
“Be a Scrooge all year long until you are in a posi­tion to splurge with­out wor­ry,” he said.
 
Pre­pare to pay more tax­es. Fis­cal cliff sce­nario or not, tax changes will mean the aver­age Amer­i­can pays more in 2013.
 
David Selig of New York tax firm Selig & Asso­ciates said you should, at the very least, plan to do with $4,000 less per cou­ple, based on the 2% increase in Social Secu­ri­ty with­hold­ing.
 
Plan for next year’s hol­i­day spend­ing. You may find your­self gasp­ing as the hol­i­day sea­son’s cred­it card bills arrive. Avoid repeat­ing that sce­nario by start­ing to plan for next year’s spend­ing spree now. Set aside some­thing each month.
 
Cel­e­brate your achieve­ments. Set finan­cial goals and when you achieve one, cel­e­brate, said McNeill.
 
Just paid off a cred­it card? Pat your­self on the back by hav­ing your friends over for din­ner.
 
Cre­ate an emer­gency fund. Since you don’t know what 2013 will bring, it’s a good idea to set aside enough cash to sup­port your­self or your fam­i­ly for at least a month.
 
“But don’t dip into that account just because it’s your sweet­heart’s birth­day,” Selig advised.
 
 
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