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Ten steps to financial fitness

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Focus on Finance by Wm. Steve Wright

Question: It is New Year’s resolution time. Now that I am older my resolution is moving away from the “get physically fit” arena and moving more towards the “get financially fit” arena. Can you give me some advice that is easy to follow and can set me on the right track for 2013?

Answer: As we look back on 2012 we may soon realize there were many areas that we made significant progress and some areas we still need to improve.

Here are 10 steps you can take in 2013 to move you closer to financial freedom:

  • Get a grip on spending. During the holiday season we spend more than any other time of the year. This may have wrecked our budget. Begin now to ask yourself before spending money the following question, “Is this expenditure really necessary?”
  • Build your budget. I know this is the last thing you want to do. However, by working within a budget that spends less than you earn you actually will free up cash to use for savings or extra special occasions.
  • Give to your church or charity. Our human instinct is to give. We feel better and are better citizens in society when we give back. Actually, some medical surveys have revealed that individuals who are givers are happier, healthier and live longer lives.
  • Reduce credit card spending. Credit cards are simple and easy to use and that is the problem. Surveys have shown by using credit cards we spend more. Handing out cash upon purchases seems to reduce our spending. We see cash leaving our hands.
  • Spend less than you earn. These are the reason for the second item — build a budget. You can only avoid debt if you spend less than you earn.
  • Eat at home more. Eating out is very convenient. But very costly. It is much cheaper to eat at home. When I eat out I always try to have a coupon to reduce the cost.
  • Vacation close to home. Family fun can be had within easy driving distance from our homes. We do not have to travel far to enjoy time with our family. Faraway places sound nice but can bust the budget.
  • Avoid the “Jones” attitude. We do not need to keep up with the Joneses. They are very likely deep in debt and cannot avoid the goodies they have. Live within your means and be happy.
  • Keep your car that is paid off. New cars look nice but can be costly. The most economical car you own is the one that is paid off. We drive our cars until the wheels fall off. Several of our vehicles have more than 200,000 miles on them and drive fine.
  • Seek financial guidance. Better decisions can be made with the sound advice of other individuals. Especially older individuals who have a lot of life experience.

The Ten Steps to Financial Freedom in 2013 is a quick guide to help you make the New Year the best ever.

Wm. Steve Wright is managing member of The Wright Legacy Group LLC.

 

What is Focus on Finance?

Have a question about your finances? Submit it to the our panel of local experts who answer your questions on The News-Enterprise Money page every Sunday.

A panel of local experts with experience and knowledge of this community respond to questions about 401(k)s, 403(b)s, annuities, certificates of deposit, home mortgages and/ or refinancing, investing in the stock market, financing retirement, reducing income taxes and related topics. Email your questions to: focusonfinance@thenewsenterprise.com or mail to: Melanie Parker, The Wright Legacy Group, LLC, 1104 Julianna Court, Elizabethtown, KY 42701.