Small steps keep financial resolutions within reach

(BPT) – Keeping resolutions is the hardest part of making them. If you’re like many, 2013 may be the year of getting your financial house in order. For some, that may mean getting out from credit card debt or paying off a student loan; for others, it may mean setting aside more for emergency savings or for retirement.

Whatever your financial resolution, keep in mind that even the smallest, simplest steps can add up over the course of a year to some sizable savings. If you’re looking for a few ways to hold onto extra cash, here are five tips to trim your household budget without feeling too big of a pinch:

1. Get rid of unused memberships: Make a complete list of all your memberships and their associated annual fees. Objectively assess how often you use them. If you haven’t visited the gym, the museum or that website in ages, then cancel your membership and pocket the savings.

2. Try borrowing: If you haven’t been to your local library lately, it might be time for a reintroduction. It’s easier than ever to borrow books, magazines, DVDs and even e-books, with many libraries offering convenient online hold services that allow you to request items and receive notification as soon as they’re available.

3. Consider a cash-back service: Let’s face it, no matter how stringent you are about saving, spending for necessities is inevitable. Why not make it work for you? In addition to cash-back services now offered by many banks and credit card companies, online sites with free membership, like Ebates and FatWallet, can provide additional cash-back muscle and get you money-saving coupons and deals.

4. Review your cellphone plan: Are you paying for minutes, text or data you never use? If you’re locked into a contract and are paying for more than you need, consider flexible no-contract plans – such as those offered by Consumer Cellular – that let you select a plan that meets your needs and change as often as you need without penalty. Be sure to understand any early termination fees with your current provider before making the switch; if the fees are exorbitant, it may be wise to wait until your contract is up.

5. Avoid late fees: If you’re notorious for burying your bills and finding them well after their due dates, consider setting up automatic bill payment if your bank  offers the service free of charge. Avoiding late fees keeps more money in your wallet and can help your credit score, too.

Taking time to review where your money is going and making some minor adjustments to your spending habits can get you off to a good start in terms of keeping your financial resolutions. Once you’re comfortable with small changes, start building on them to make an even bigger impact and move even closer to your goals.

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