according to Howard Dayton, author of Your Money Map: A Proven 7-Step Guide to True Financial Freedom (Moody Publishers 2006). He offers these tips for better finances in 2007:
1. Crisis Cash: Set aside regular amounts in an emergency fund. Start by saving $1,000. Then, increase that amount. Eventually, you should have enough to cover three months of living expenses. --Dayton
My comment: I'm working on a three to six-month fund, financed primarily with income from extra projects and surprise money. In an earlier post, I provided other suggestions for bankrolling an emergency fund.
2. Automate: Don’t rely on good luck to pad your finances. Set up an automatic withdrawal of 10% of your paycheck that will go directly into your savings. --Dayton
3. Family Huddle: Agree with your spouse on a regular, weekly time to assess and maintain your family spending plan.
Comment: We don't have a set schedule for chatting about money. Maybe I'll try this tip.
4. Stall to Save: Require yourself to wait two full days before buying something you’ve seen in a catalog, on the Internet, or in a store. --Dayton
Comment: I call it the permanent lay-away plan. When I shop, I put things on hold for a day or so. If I still want the item, I come back within the set period. If not, I call back and ask the clerk to put the merchandise back into circulation: Hence, a permanent lay-away plan.
Actually, I've restricted my shopping to August end-of-summer sales. (Summer clothes are perfect year-round in Miami).
5. Debt Repayment: Cut small expenses like cable, a morning cup of coffee or video rentals and put that money directly into paying off your debts, starting with the smallest and working your way up. You’ll be amazed at the results as you gain momentum. --Dayton
“One successful, practical change,” says Dayton, “does more good for your finances than hundreds of unrealistic promises. Focus on small adjustments in the way you manage your money, and you will find that they make a huge difference.”
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