Make Some Financial Resolutions That Will Last

Just like fireworks on New Years Eve, resolutions tend to start off with a bang and fizzle out fast. The key to achieving your resolutions is choosing goals that are reasonable and attainable and then disciplining yourself to stick with them. For some financial resolutions that can last for the long term, consider the following: Boost your 401(k) contributions this year and every year thereafter. Employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k)s offer the potential for tax-deferred growth, and because contributions are typically made before taxes, they can lower your current taxable income. Furthermore, most plans offer a variety of investment options so you can tailor your choices to reflect your needs. When your salary goes up, increase your 401(k) contributions. If your contributions are automatically deducted from your paycheck, this resolution can be easy to achieve. Contribute the maximum to your IRA. Some people dont fully fund their IRAs each year because theyre intimidated by the contribution limits. (In 2007, its $4,000 per year or $5,000 if youre age 50 or older; in 2008, it rises to $5,000, or $6,000 for age 50 and older.) But if you cant fund your IRA all at once, thats OK. Write a check to your IRA each time you get paid, or have the money automatically sent from your checking account. Build an emergency fund. This may take a bit more effort, but its worth it. If you can put away six to 12 months worth of living expenses in a liquid account and use the money for emergencies only, you may be able to avoid dipping into your investments to pay for these costs. And the less you tap into your investments, the better. Cut your debts. Heres another resolution that sounds simple but can be difficult to achieve. Yet every dollar that doesnt go toward a debt payment can be invested for your future. In 2008, look for ways to cut your costs and strive to live within your means. If you can follow these resolutions in 2008, you can help position yourself for financial success for many new years to come.

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