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5 Easy Money Resolutions for the New Year

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If you find yourself making the same money mistakes over and over, 2016 can be a great opportunity to rebrand. Whether you need to pay off credit card debt, save more for retirement or improve your credit, these simple money resolutions are a great place to start. Get those pencils ready because it’s time to take notes.

1. Pay Your Balances Off in Full

Commit to paying your balance in full every month, said Atlanta-based financial planner Nivedita Persaud. That goes for any new amount you put on your credit card. “By committing to pay in full any new charges, you will minimize the growth of your credit card debt and establish a good habit,” Persaud wrote in an email.

2. Set Up Automatic Bill Pay

Whether you’re working to pay off student loans, have a habit of missing bills or just don’t want to think about having to deal with your credit card statement each month, automating your bills can take a huge load off. Doing so can also help you avoid late fees, something no one wants to spend money on.

Just make sure to continue monitoring account statements for fraudulent or improper charges. (You can also keep an eye on your credit if you ever have reason to believe other kinds of identity theft are occurring. To do so, you can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and view your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.)

3. Curb Your Discretionary Spending

It’s in your best interest to make sure you don’t overspend on non-essentials. One way to avoid doing so? “Resolve to set aside your fun spending money (eating out, clothes, gifts, movie tickets) in cash,” Kristi C. Sullivan, a financial planner in Denver, wrote in an email. “Once you’ve spent the cash, you’re done with discretionary spending for the week. Watch those expenses shrink!”

4. Stop Paying for Discounts You Won’t Use

Daily deals and other websites may tout attractive offers, discounts or coupons, but you’re only really saving if they can be applied to an item or activity that’s already in your budget. “Just add up how much you wasted buying these [coupons] and never using them,” Persaud said. Those savings could really add up.

5. Shop Less

Not only is it tempting to go overboard online, you can rack up shipping charges as well. “Find ways to spend your time other than shopping,” Persaud said. “The best way to stop spending is to stop going to stores — physically and online.” Whether you’re an impulse shopper or a self-professed fashion girl, find something to do instead, such as reading a good book.

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