Now is the time when people start looking back at the past year and thinking about some of the things they’d like to change going forward.  The start of a new year is the perfect time to wipe the slate clean and start being the person you really want to be.
Most people make New Year’s resolutions that are somehow related to health.  For example, you might resolve to exercise more regularly or lose a certain amount of weight.  That’s not too surprising since the holiday season is often a time for overindulging in food and drink.
While trying to improve your health is certainly a good idea, don’t forget to look at your money habits and find ways to improve your financial situation in 2014.
Here are a few suggestions to get your juices flowing:
Start an Emergency Fund
When I was growing up my family always lived paycheck to paycheck and there was never any kind of emergency fund to fall back on.  When the washing machine broke or we had unexpected medical expenses, my dad did what many other people do: he charged it.
Unfortunately that is a recipe for disaster and if you find yourself in the same situation as my parents did it’s time to start building an emergency fund.  It’s ok to start small and set a few bucks aside to start but your goal should be to save up enough to cover a few months of expenses in case you run into a financial emergency.
Set Up an Automatic Savings Plan
Even if you know you should be saving money, getting the ball rolling and staying with it can be a challenge.  This is where automation can be a real ally.
You can plan to wait until the end of the month and manually deposit $100 into a savings account, but life has a way of getting in the way of your best intentions. Something always comes up and you end up not having the extra money to save.
You can keep that from happening by setting up an automatic direct deposit into a savings account so the money goes right into your savings before you even have a chance to spend it.  You can start with a small amount that you won’t even miss and then gradual increase it so your savings will really have a chance to grow.
Quit Smoking
If you are currently living paycheck to paycheck you might have a hard time finding any money at all to save.  In this case you need to reevaluate your spending and see where you can trim some fat.
If you smoke, you can easily save a small fortune by kicking the habit.  The average price of cigarettes varies by state, from “only” $4.96 per pack in Kentucky to a ridiculous $14.50 in New York.
Let’s say you’re on the lower end of the spectrum and you pay $6 per pack of cigarettes and you smoke a pack a day.  At the end of the year you would have spent $2,190 on cigarettes!
Just think of all the different ways you could have spent that money!