This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Baby Steps for Improved Personal Finances

Set up emergency fund account: If you don't already have a designated emergency fund separate from other accounts, now is the time to set one up. Even if you don't have any extra money right now, that's OK because the key thing is that you don't want funds mixed up. A good solution for many is an online savings account. It's connected to a regular bank account, and you can start it off with as little as $1. Also, it's not easy to withdraw on a daily basis.

Automate everything: Yes, everything. Bills, deposits -- even the new emergency fund. By automating all the things you can, you'll have fewer issues to remember and worry about each month.

Know your debts: It's time to add up all the balances to see how much you owe. Then you'll be in a position to put a payoff plan in place. Decide the order you want to pay off debts -- either the smallest amount first or highest interest first through the snowball method. Once you know, call each credit card company and politely ask if you can have the interest rate lowered. While it won't work every time, a simple request works a lot of the time, especially if you have good credit.

Start tracking your spending: It's difficult to make changes unless you know where you're spending your money. Unfortunately, "I think I'm spending it at ..." isn't going to be good enough. Carry around a small notebook or get in the habit of recording each purchase in a personal organizer or cell phone. Doing this for a few weeks should give you a good idea of how you spend your money, which you can then use to make a formal plan to improve your finances.

Once you have finished the above steps, don't stop. Keep the baby steps rolling. It takes consistency and determination to keep your finances under control. Once you finish one, move on to the next on your list and you'll find that you're well on your way to taking control of your finances come February.

Jeffrey Strain has been a freelance personal finance writer for the past 10 years helping people save money and getting their finances in order. He owns and runs SavingAdvice.com.
2 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,943.81 +28.74 0.17%
S&P 500 1,967.57 +2.89 0.15%
NASDAQ 4,415.49 +19.2860 0.44%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto
Advertising Partners

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs