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January 5th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Your financial resolutions for the new year?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Instead of the more traditional New Year's resolutions to lose weight or hit the gym, how about getting your financial house in order in 2011?

According to one recent survey, a whopping 70% of consumers say their top financial resolution is to decrease their debt. That's followed by improving their credit score, relying less on credit cards and saving more.

USA Today takes a look at five easy financial resolutions that could save you big money.

  • Order your free credit reports. This is especially important because a damaged credit report can hurt your ability to get a job.
  • Get a medical exam. Preventive health care can help your doctor identify medical problems before they become serious, thus reducing future health care costs. Thanks to changes in Medicare and the new health care law, millions of Americans can now get free physicals.
  • Update beneficiaries on your insurance policies, pensions and retirement plans. Experts say people often forget to do this and if they unexpectedly die, the money doesn't go where they want it to.
  • Increase your 401(k) contributions. Many workers reduced their retirement savings during the economic downturn, when companies froze matching contributions. But many of these companies are starting to match again.
  • Re-balance your 401(k) portfolio. Financial advisers recommend reviewing your investment portfolio at least once a year. Ignoring the changes in the market can cost you a lot of money.

Here’s my question to you: What are your financial resolutions for the new year?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Tom in Tampa, Florida writes:
I want to get completely out of debt. Debt is slavery. It's why our government is a slave to foreign nations, corporations, and banks, and I don't want to be owned like that anymore. It's not healthy.

Paul in Florida writes:
I'm doubling up on my lotto bets. I'd rather give my money to the lotto than the government. At least with the lotto, I have some tiny chance of winning as compared to no chance with the government.

Michelle in Bronx, New York writes:
My New Year's resolution is to be debt-free. I finally am able to face my debt and am working toward decreasing it. The ultimate goal is to become a first-time home owner.

Ken in California writes:
Get out of the stock market. What goes up must come down.

Gina in Pomona, California writes:
My financial resolution is to stick to the financial resolution I made five years ago: NO CREDIT CARDS EVER. Cash on the barrel only. Thankfully I've stuck to it all these years.

Brian writes:
The same as in the previous years: send the maximum amount to my 401K and catch-up contributions, make use of all rebates. Spend wisely. Use the company medical, dental and vision plans to the fullest. Try to have a debt-free retirement.

Loren writes:
Pay down debt, try to save. Last year, I went against the herd and spent on an addition to my house. This year (and for several years) I will pay for it.

Mike in Texas writes:
Find a source of income so next year when you ask I'll have a financial house to have in order.

Paul writes:
My #1 financial resolution is to be able to join the 50% of Americans who don't pay ANY taxes.


Filed under: Money • Personal Finances
soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. TOPRINGOLDRET

    Give the RICH a BIGGER tax cut...........................

    January 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  2. James from Idaho

    Refamiliarize myself with the Wall Street Journal's Lifetime Guide to Money.

    I recommend that to Wall Street as well.

    James
    Idaho

    January 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Never have any debt over and above the mortgage and one car payment, ever again.

    January 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  4. Ralph

    To fiscally do the opposite of what our government has been doing spending wise.
    Ralph-Corpus Christi, Texas

    January 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  5. John from Alabama

    Jack: To pay off any credit cards. This has been my goal for several years. To invest monies into secured financial instruments. Spend money for food, energy, basic transportation, clothes, and some funds for entertainment. To stay healthy and be covered by a combination of government and private health care programs. To provide for my wife in case of my death, and leave something to our children and grandchildren.

    January 5, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  6. B.J., Quincy, Il

    Try finding other means to save money, like gold, silver, and precios metals, because the dollar isn't going to last that long at this rate.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  7. Tom Bulger, Canandaigua

    To give all of my business to pro-community Credit unions instead of Wall Street mega-banks.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  8. Wade

    What are your financial resolutions for the new year?

    Since the GOP sent our jobs outside the US, and they are back in control of the House, I am going to put my money outside the US with our jobs.

    Wade
    Sacramento CA

    January 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  9. Dave, Orlando, FL

    I resolve to again attempt to keep my head above water. But with all my insurance premiums going up substantially (thanks to Obamacare), all my taxes going up substantially, all my food bills going up substantially, all my transportation costs going up substantially and everything else I can think of going up substantially, and my SS stagnated, I’m afraid that it will be one more broken resolution.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  10. FreedToChoose

    To spend keep my sock drawer tidy and my mess kit clean... and to drink at least one pot of coffee every day.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  11. Gary H. Boyd

    Jack, my financial plan for 2011 is the same one I had for 2010. Being retired, each day I go to the bank, make a withdrawal then go to the nearby indian casino where, more often than not, I give it to them. The next day an armored car service comes by the casino, picks up the money and takes it back to the bank and the whole process starts over. I figure I'll be bankrupt about the same time the U.S government acknowledges that it is too.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    January 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  12. Kevin in CA

    My financial resolution is actually get paid for all the work I do ... no more pro bono late nights and weekends.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  13. Greg McCarthy

    Jack,
    My financial resolution for the new year is to become dirty,filthy rich so I can pay less to foreign workers,keep most of my money,and afford to 'get by'. Greg M. Largo,FL

    January 5, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  14. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Survive!!!!!!!!!!

    January 5, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  15. Loren

    Pay down debt, try to save. Last year, I went against the herd and spent on an addition to my house. This year (and for several years) I will pay for it.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  16. Ron in Ohio

    Save money. Purchase more carefully and while doing so, try as best as can be possible to by products made in this country for at least the foreseeable future.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  17. Ed Reed

    Never give money to a politician, it only encourages them.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  18. Adam Simi Valley, CA

    Stay solvent and mitigate market risk.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  19. Ed from California

    I'm married, Jack. The only financial resolution I can keep....is saying, " That looks nice, dear!" Or, "That's a bargin, you should've bought two!" Comprende'!

    January 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  20. Rich McKinney, Texas

    My resolution was to take all of the money i had in the bank out. They were paying me less then 1 percent interest so i decided i could do better on my own with a dollar scratch off lottery ticket once a month.
    I also decided to not donate any more money to charities either. Charity begins at home.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  21. Ken in California

    Get out of the stock market . What goes up must come down.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  22. Tony from Southport

    Just like conservatives recently elected to office.... spend less and bring in more.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  23. Dennis north Carolina

    spend less and drive less so prices will drop. if we do not due this, we will not afford to live in this world as a free person.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  24. Jeff In Minnesota

    Save more and spend even less than last year.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  25. Bradley, Portland, OR

    My resolution is to vote against any Republican in Congress who wants to destroy the American middle class in order to enrich the wealthy and corporations.

    Unfortunately, that would be every Republican in Congress.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  26. Pete from Georgia

    My financial resolution for 2011 is to start investing in banana peels. It's the only thing I could think of that's more slippery than our government financial regulators.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  27. birddog in Mississippi

    Ummm. I think for a lot of people it's: find a job.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  28. HURRICANEPAUL from Hawaii

    My #1 financial resolution is to be able to JOIN the 50% of Americans who don't pay ANY taxes

    January 5, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  29. Karen, Idaho

    I'm going to pay off my Christmas bills and hope that the new Republican Congress doesn't slash my Social Security income so that I can go back to living month to month on what I receive.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  30. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    To maintain the status quo and make sure my son and his family have everything they need so when he graduates he will be able to support them and hopefully live a good life in this poor economy.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  31. Paul, New Port Richey, Florida

    I'm doubling up on my lotto bets. I'd rather give my money to the lotto, than the government. At least with the lotto, I have some timy chance of winning as compared to no chance with the government.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  32. CRAIG R. MCNEES

    Tampa, Fl. Well with the passage of Obamacare, I will have to spend over $1,000 more for my medications this year, with no COLA (again) as well, since all of the Medicare Part B's have changed the rules. Guess I can eat a little less and wear the same clothes along with not getting my leaky roof fixed.
    You may want to let your listeners know that all of our Insurance Companies that issue Disability Checks are also not giving COLAS, not just Social Security. They are saving a bundle.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  33. Dee in New Paris Ohio

    Don't need a free credit report, the economy has pretty much sent ours into the toilet.

    Probably need a medical exam, thankfully we now have some medical coverage. that is until the Reps manage to get that repealed.

    No need to update beneficiaries. The same old folks are going to get the same old thing.

    What 401k? We spent all that just trying to stay afloat in an unemployment emergency!

    Heads up for the Republicans. YOU ALREADY GOT IT ALL, LEAVE US ALONE!!!

    January 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  34. Alex in Gig Harbor, WA

    I just set up my living will. I am DNR because I don't want to fight the health insurance companies like my wife and I had to do when she got sick. I also don't want to live in the Hobbesian world envisioned by the GOP where all of the safety nets are destroyed as a lesson to the parasites of society and their entitlement mentality. Don't the Tea Party screamers realize they are only an accident or diagnosis away from needing the safety net too?

    January 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  35. KDS Irvine, CA

    My goals for this year financially are simple. I plan on contributing to my Roth IRA every month, and try to build a savings that has 6 months of income saved up on the side. I also plan on doing away with credit card usage as well.

    I don't have any debt, and I don't want any!

    January 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  36. Greg of Mechanicsburg PA

    My financial resolution this year is to get a full-time job. You can't put money into a 401k if there isn't enough money coming in to pay the bills.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  37. Michelle

    My new year resolution is to be debt free. I finally am able to face my debt and working my way in decreasing it. The ultimate goal is to become a first time home owner. – Bronx, New York

    January 5, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  38. Dave

    Why is it allowed for a potential employer to access your credit report? It seems to me that if you have a lower credit score you are rejected from employment. A lower score would be from not being employed. I guess they would assume that you are a thief, what else could it be.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  39. Jack

    AHHH....hahahahhahaha! Good one Jack! Probably move to a fiscally sound state or country.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  40. Randy

    Get a job.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  41. Paul In Dallas, TX

    Continue to build up my nest egg by cutting back on frivolous spending.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  42. chad

    Jack, my resolution is to stay debt free and keep my credit score in the low 800's.

    Anchorage, Ak.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  43. R. M. Moore

    Hi Jack,

    My financial resolution is to do as little business with financial services firms as I possibly can. I'm 41 and I already have 6 figures fully vested, but locked up in a 401(k) unless I change employers. I'm not contributing anymore into that trap. I think with simple and smart (after tax) saving, I can self-insure many areas of my life (including retirement, insurance policies, etc) without the "help" of financial services firms. Their products do very little but separate us from the velocity of our present day earnings. The sooner we all learn this, the sooner financial firms begin to build products that are of value to us and not just them.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  44. Meg from John Boehner's district in Ohio

    Jack-
    My resolutions are to maximize my income, save as much as I can, pay down my debt, and buy only those items that I absolutely need.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  45. Terry- Greensburg, IN "Hoosier Hillbilly"

    "SCREW" Uncle Sam like he's been doing to me for the last 65 years.
    HOW! 'i' have no idea; ( but where there's a will there's a way!!
    Maybe 'i' could apply as an illegal immigrant? They get all the benefits of the current congress and pay none of the costs. Or 'i' could go on welfare, smoke pot, shoot up, and never worry about another thing in the world because 'i' get the money to do it from the hard working tax payers and 'i'm to high to care about anything else.
    What are your financial resolutions for the new year, Jack??????

    January 5, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  46. Judie Wm's -- El Lago TX

    Hi Jack....my resolutions continue of separating wants from needs....to practice self discipline & to review my will. I've made certain that on accounts a person is named as having "right of survivorship". I have at times fallen into the convenience of ordering on line and charging and then comes the bill !! Now if I do on line ordering I keep an accounting as to what the charges are....if they near $100.00 then I stop until that amount is paid in full.

    The days of "instant gratification" are long gone as I've paid the piper and do not care to do so again.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  47. The_Mick

    I, in Baltimore, MD, began keeping a detailed budget again, and have broken my food purchases down into groceries, sodas & drinks, sweets, snacks, and restaurant/fast food to enforce diet improvement. When I last kept such a diary it had a $2K/year brake on my spending and, since I've already surpassed by sweets budget for January, I expect this one to do the same. There are Excel workbooks you can find with by searching something like "excel free budget planner" that make the entries and record keeping easy.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  48. Billie

    TRY to find a job so I can pay my rent, buy some food and put gas in my car to go to work.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  49. Gerald (Tampa, FL)

    I'm going to skip out paying my taxes.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  50. Remo, from beautiful downtown Pflugerville Texas

    Well, it's basically not to fund any Government spending.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  51. Robin Jones

    Use it up, wear it out, make it do, then do without

    January 5, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  52. Chaotician

    Do everything possible to destroy Goldman's and other Investment Banks, BofA and other TBTF banks, and get all executives of firms bailed out by US be terminated, that all congressional members who voted to eliminate banking regulations or oppose reinstatement of these regulations be impeached, and all administration officials for the the last 3 regimes that supported deregulation terminated and/or impeached...and that all such individuals have all assets confiscated and face prosecution for their criminal actions!

    NM

    January 5, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  53. Jason

    Jack,
    my financial resolutions for 2011 are very similar or identical to those of many americans. Live like an absolute miser, cut costs wherever I can even to the point of going to seemingly ridiculous extremes, pay down debt and whatever I do, DO NOT SET FOOT IN ANY HOSPITAL OR OTHER HEALTH CARE FACILITY unless it is absolutely necessary. I'm not going to let the health care industry take any more money from than it already has.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  54. Brian Wickremasinghe-Woodland Hills

    The same as in the previous years. Send maximum to the 401K and catch up contributions, make use of all rebates. Spend wisely. Use the Company Medical, Dental and Vision to the fullest. Try to have a debt free retirement.

    January 5, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  55. craig winkler

    Your financial resolutions for the new year?
    1.On my 42nd birthday in feb 18 i will be going to take my NASM Personal Trainer Exam that i can start to get a job in the Fitness Areana .
    2 .i will been finishing up my Certication for Adult Fitness and Health Management .
    Get a medical exam.
    1. am doing that getting my a medical exam. and labs works done and see what is going on with my health..
    2. i will be getting s Physical Exams
    credit cards and saving more.
    1. I personal dont like Credit card so i am telling all the Credit Cards Companies look at the other ways
    2. my goals are to put my money in the saving and put that money in the rainy day when i can go on vacation or buy somethings what i needs nothing else but the things i needs .

    January 5, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  56. MIke in TX

    Find a source of income so next year when you ask I'll have a financial house to have in order.

    January 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  57. Ken in NC

    Considering that I got a 975% return on my Lottery Investments vs a 2.25% return on my Certificates of Deposit, I am compelled to continue my Lottery Investments. Neither the banks or the Lottery guarantees a return. Take your pick.

    January 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  58. Gina, Pomona, Ca

    My financial resolution is the stick to the financial resolution I made five years ago...NO CREDIT CARDS EVER. Cash on the barrel only. Thankfully I've stuck to it all these years. Happy New Year Jack!!

    January 5, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  59. Rick, Medina, OH

    Jack,

    I've already done everything you mentioned. My resolution is to sell my kids on the benefits of even minimal regular savings while they are young. I've done the math ... it might be the best gift I'll ever give them.

    Rick,
    Medina, OH

    January 5, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  60. Greg Turman

    Jack;
    2011 personal financial plan.

    Dig a hole in an un-disclosed place & bury all of my extra cash/valuables before Obama takes it.

    Greg Turman
    Dallas,Texas

    January 5, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  61. Mark in Minneapolis

    Spend like a fat cat, and let my kids worry about it in the future.

    January 5, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  62. Tom in Tampa

    I want to get completely out of debt. Debt is slavery. It's why our government is a slave to foreign nations, corporations, and banks, and I don't want to be owned like like that anymore. It's not healthy.

    January 5, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  63. Ron

    Easy one. Same as LAST year's resolution. Find a job.

    Ron
    Oklahoma

    January 5, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  64. Chris, Bronx, NY

    My resolution is to GET A JOB, so I can have some finances to make a financial resolution with!!!

    January 5, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  65. MA in Arizona

    My most important financial resolution this year is to find affordable health insurance that I can qualify for, not just afford, for my sake and the sake of my family. As the sole breadwinner I don't have health insurance and I was hoping that President Obama's Healt Care Insurance reform was going to help me but today I heard about this GOP stunt to try to repeal what could help so many of us that need health insurance. Now I really don't know where to turn and if the good that President Obama has done is going to be under attack by the GOP, potential medical bills and shaky employment really affect not just my financial planning but the outcome of anyone's financial resolution or attempt at surviving 2011,Jack.

    January 5, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  66. Jeff in NC

    I'm going to pray that my employer doesn't close the doors (we're close to it) and spend as little as humanly possible on the essentials only...vacation at home, don't purchase any luxuries including Rib Eyes at $11 a pound. I'm going to buy cheap beer and plenty of ammo and I'm definitely not going to fuel the Chinese economy.

    January 5, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  67. Ron

    Well I started it last year and will continue this year. As a Military family and one that got the lowest pay raise in decades right in the middle of two Wars, I've got to save. I'll do that by not shopping on the economny but in the BX. No Tax on anything!!!!!!!!!! lets face it the Congress is broken beyond repair, they are only interested in Big Business and theirselves, Local State or Federal.can't get out of Income Tax but absolutely No Sales Tax!!!!!!!!!!! Last two TV's and last computer was at the BX. They have clothes, food, everything we need! Fortunately I don't have to count on the Republicans for Health Care, they intend to take it away! Wow!

    January 5, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  68. Merbrise

    Jack, can't do much this year. Just watch the medical bills pile up some more, as I will undergo bilateral lung transplantation and can't do nothing about the financial downfall my family is heading into. I was diagnosed with a terminal illness and the only solution is to get a new "used" set of lungs. Even with health insurance the expenditure is mind boggling. So to answer your question...I will be trying to recuperate, so I can get a job in 2012 to pay all the bills from 2011.

    January 5, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  69. gferdinand

    reduce monthly expences
    auto insurance
    cell phone
    cable
    contribute 5% to 401k plan
    join credit union
    payoff taxes
    refinance auto loan
    increase income by working overtime
    increase charitable contributions

    January 5, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  70. Eric, Colorado

    Save money for health insurance cause the republicans want to give the health insurance industry a boost to pay for the lobbying money they gave.

    January 5, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  71. Brenda

    In an economy marked by rising gasoline prices, rising grocery prices, rising utility rates, rising federal taxes, rising state and municipal taxes, lay-offs, and pay cuts, my financial resolution is to finally have some disposable income with which to make a financial resolution!

    Brenda, Sylvania, Ohio

    January 5, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  72. Marian Elliott

    USA Today's advice seems unaware of the millions who don't get credit reports – no credit-, can't get a health exam – no insurance-, don't need to worry about beneficiaries – no assets,no insurance plans, pensions or retirement plans-,can't increase contributions to 401 ks -they don't have one-, and certainly don't have any portfolio to balance. How about advice for the millions who really need it, who try to survive paycheck to paycheck, assuming they have a paycheck while congress does its best to protect the interest of the richest among us while gutting any help for the middleclass who keep getting poorer everyday.
    Marian Elliott
    Wasilla, Alaska

    January 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  73. Lou M

    My resolution is to cut back on spending and save more because the Republicans are going to destroy the economy and my income. Under the Republicans I stand to have my social security and military income cut or eliminated, then what? This is a bad time for all Americans except the very rich.

    January 5, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  74. Carlos of Portland

    1. Continue to support the building of a jail on Wall Street.
    2. Fill said jail with the miscreants who caused this Mess.
    3. Do what I can to help those families begging on our street corners.
    4. Mix up one good wallbanger & inhale it while watching whales cavort.
    5. Continue to vent frustration with opinion polls, who's listening?

    January 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm |