Start the New Year Right with a Realistic New Spending Plan

Gone are the days when losing weight or kicking a smoking habit were top New Year's resolutions. This year, it's all about the money.

And for good reason. With millions of Americans facing foreclosure, out of work or otherwise struggling to pay the bills, it's time for a real change. It's time we stopped procrastinating and making excuses and instead started saving. Don't worry; it's easier than it might sound. And as an added bonus, creating a spending plan can actually help you achieve other changes in your life - like quitting cigarettes or eating more healthfully.

Unlike many folks fear, a spending plan doesn't have to take all the fun out of your shopping. But it can streamline your life by helping you make more realistic choices.

Budgets can range from simple to complex, but they all have one basic thing in common: the goal is to spend less money than you earn. When you spend more, it means you're using your credit card to pay with money you don't yet have. When you do that, you're not only forking over future money, but you're also agreeing to pay interest. Why give up your paycheck before you've even brought it home? By cutting back in a few strategic areas, you might be able to reign in your spending enough to stop adding to debt - and start freeing your finances.

Wondering how to get started? Start by looking for expenditures that you don't really need. That means gym memberships you don't use, magazine subscriptions you don't read, e-mail accounts you don't check, a land line that very few people call, etc. It might seem hard to give things up, but cutting back on stuff you like will allow you to keep some of the stuff you love.

Here's an example. Maybe you only get a latte at Starbucks because you're there to socialize with friends. In that case, could you just sip water while you enjoy the company? But if java is your favorite flavor, how about giving up your regular lunches out so that you can afford to keep sipping gourmet coffee? Or better yet, how about packing your own coffee half the time? You'll save bucks and you'll appreciate the occasional caffeine treat even more.

That's just one scenario - each financial plan is going to be different because each individual is different. Keep trying until you find something that works for you. And if you get stuck know that there are financial professionals out there who have your back. Like our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys. If your debt feels too big to overcome, bankruptcy might be the most affordable way for you to pay it off and start fresh. Find out for free if bankruptcy is right for you with our free one-on-one debt analysis.

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