5 simple ways to improve your finances in 2013

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Looking to stay on top of your money in 2013?  Here are five very do-able New Year's resolutions to help you:

1) This year, pay down your credit card debt before you look at any other investment opportunities. The average US borrower has around $5,000 of credit card debt.  Interest rates are typically not good. You don’t have to pay it all off - although that's a good goal - just make a dent.  If you've got a $1,000 to invest, paying off a card with a 15 percent interest rate is better than you'll likely do with that money in the stock market.

2)  Paying off credit cards is easier said than done, but staying on top of your credit report is free.  Use the beginning of the year to take a look at your report - with www.annualcreditreport.com.  You can check each bureau free, once every twelve months.  Make sure it's accurate, and, if it's not, start to dispute.

3)  Do a better job of tracking your expenses.  Developing a system of cataloging receipts for business expenses and charitable deductions is a good project for the start of the year.  Find a system you can stick with, and you won't find yourself dealing with a mess next year.  Sites like www.mint.com or even a simple spreadsheet can go a long way. 

4)  Commit to placing a value on your time.  Saving money is great, but if you're driving all the way across town for a deal, or spending hours and hours online reading deal message boards, it may not be worth it.  Make sure you're getting a return on your time investment.

5) Take an hour and sign up for every rewards program you think you might use such as frequent flier accounts, Best Buy Reward Zone and hotel accounts. Load the numbers into your smartphone with an app like key ring to help you keep track of them. By the end of the year, you'll be surprised how many points you've racked up.

What are your financial resolutions?  Let us know in the comment section below.


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