Recommit to Your New Year's Resolutions
As we ring in the new year, millions of people make resolutions to change their lives for the better, hoping to lose weight, quit smoking, spend more time with their families or make other life improvements. The Web can aid you on your journey, with advice, resources and inspiration that will help you follow through with—or recommit to—your New Year's resolutions.
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To celebrate the New Year, the Babylonians would lower their debt by returning a piece of farm equipment they had borrowed during the year. Even if you haven’t borrowed any farm equipment lately, you too can use New Year’s to lower your debt and get your finances in order by using the recommended sites in this section.
- Easily make your own budget using any offline spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel. Excel has tools that allow you input formulas into cells, get the sum of rows and columns automatically, and even make charts of your spending.
- Many credit card companies will provide you with an end-of-year (or -month) summary of what categories you spent money on: for example, groceries, clothing, furniture, electronics, or restaurants. Having information about where you’ve spent money in the past can help you to determine a reasonable plan for the future.
- Personal budgeting software can be customized based on your unique expenditures. For information on online budgeting, check out PersonalBudgetingSoftware.com, where you'll find articles like this one, which discusses why (and how) to get an "Online Budget Makeover".
- To fully understand how debt is related to credit, you should familiarize yourself with the different ways in which the term “credit” is used. You can buy things on credit (such as using a credit card), but you may also have heard the term “credit” applied to your ranking as a desirable (or undesirable) borrower, such as with your credit score. Our findingDulcinea Credit Web Guide can help you understand the difference between the two.
For financial budgeting tips …
is the Web site of Living a Better Life
, an e-zine devoted to helping families save money. It’s free and there are plenty of featured articles on a variety of pertinent money-saving topics. Search the categories on the left sidebar to find specific advice, or subscribe for free to the e-zine. Either way, the site offers plenty of helpful tips.
For financial budgeting software …
is the Web site for Mvelopes, an online budget-management software program that was rated one of the best products in 2006 by PC World
. Based on the premise that most people spend 10 percent more than they earn, Mvelopes seeks to determine where your 10 percent comes from and then help you eliminate it. There’s a monthly fee for the service (charges start at $7.90 per month) but the program is comprehensive. For example, you can set it up so that you can have information automatically entered from your bank or credit card.
is an open-source Windows application that helps you make a budget by allotting money in a variety of spending categories. Simply enter the sum that you have available in each category. Every time you spend money, enter the amount into the program, which will automatically deduct the purchase and then tell you how much money you have left in that category.
For information about debt …
has a “Money101” section with a chapter called “Controlling Debt.” It provides a thorough primer on debt that explains what it is and provides tips to help you manage it.
’s “Debt Management” section includes a “Debt Management Basics
” feature that walks you through the fundamental aspects of debt and debt management. You’ll also find a “Debt pay-down advisor
” calculator to help you determine the best ways to pay for your debt. Look for regular columns with advice about debt, some quick tips about debt management on the landing page of the section, and links to additional news and resources.
The Federal Trade Commission
has a site about credit that covers credit cards and consumer loans. Browse the articles here to find one that can answer your specific credit or debt question. The FTC provides lots of tips to protect you from fraud and help you fully understand how debts and credit cards can affect your credit score, and what rights you have as a borrower.
has a “Credit & Debt Management” section containing a series of articles about credit and debt. Try the article on “How Credit Scores Work
” to get a better idea of how debt and credit interact.
To understand and improve your credit …
teaches you a number of ways to improve your credit. Select from the articles listed on the homepage or use one of the “Credit Worksheets” links in the right-hand bar to get started. Also be sure to check out the site’s "How to read your credit report" tutorial (also in the right sidebar).
has articles about improving your credit score and about debt reduction and refinancing. Use the credit score compass to get an estimate of your credit score by answering a few generic questions about your finances and debt. The "Credit Cards" tab near the top of the page contains information about how credit card companies stay in business, credit card catches, and the dangers of applying for store credit cards.
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