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Study Reveals Top 3 Financial Resolutions for 2014

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WASHINGTON (1/7/14)--A record-breaking number of Americans (54%) vowed to make financial resolutions at the start of 2014, with many shifting toward short-term savings goals, according to Fidelity Investments' fifth annual "New Year Financial Resolutions Study" (U.S. News & World Report Dec. 26).
The most popular financial resolutions are saving more (54%), paying off debt (24%) and spending less (19%), followed by developing a long-term goal plan (13%), sticking to a budget (12%) and paying down credit card debt (8%).
The study also revealed that almost half (49%) feel that economic uncertainty--federal debt ceiling battles and potential changes in interest rates--may prevent them from keeping their financial resolutions in 2014.
Still searching for relatively simple yet solid financial resolutions that you won't abandon by February? Try these:
  • Check your credit report regularly. If you're worried that a security breach has put you at risk of identity theft, keep a close eye on your credit reports as well as your statements, watching for unauthorized accounts and charges. Check statements regularly, if not daily.
  • Track your expenses. Take an inventory of where your money goes and decide how much you want to spend on things like cable, cellphones, clothing, and coffee. Calculate how much you'd save by carrying your lunch instead of eating out. Lower-cost substitutes add up to big savings.
  • Automate it. Set up direct deposit to your emergency fund and retirement accounts. Use the New Year as an opportunity to bump up contributions to your employer's 401(k) plan or IRA.
  • Get organized. Set up a recordkeeping system that ensures you won't have to spend valuable time looking through piles and drawers for statements, receipts, policies, and warranties. Back up online files regularly, and keep important documents in a safe deposit box.
  • Live beneath your means. This is good advice for everyone regardless of income level. Establish a cushion to fall back on in case of job loss, medical emergency, or weather-related disaster.
Once you set your financial resolutions, resolve to keep them. Schedule quarterly check-ins. By April 1, what progress have you made? By July 1, are you half-way there? Write progress check-ins on your calendar now, and reward yourself throughout the year. That way, you won't get to December having forgotten your financial resolutions for 2014.
For more information, read "Set 2014 Up for Financial Success" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.