5 Tips for Getting Your Finances Right in 2014

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As 2013 slips into history, it's time for Americans to consider some concrete plans (and changes) in their financial lives.

The popular term for that is "New Year's resolutions," but perhaps a better description is to have a "New Year's revolution," as many of the changes needed by financially strapped Americans are sizable and significant.

TransUnion, the credit reporting firm, says almost 40% of Americans say they will make at least one big financial change in their life next year, with 32% saying they will save more money; 28% vowing to pay down debt; and 27% saying they will eliminate unnecessary expenses.

That's one benefit of a new year: It's a great time to shake things up, flip the calendar as well as your personal financial script and vow to fix some of those toxic money habits.

"The new year is the perfect time for consumers to appraise their current financial situation and make goals for where they want to be at the end of 2014," says Julie Springer, vice president at TransUnion.

So where do you start? TransUnion offers these launching points for 2014:

Check your credit. Start by knowing where you stand with your credit health. That's where you'll find evidence of what TransUnion calls "bad financial habits" such as late, missed and minimum payments on credit cards. Regular checkups may also help you guard against identity theft.

Address credit rating deficiencies. Once you know your credit score, take the steps needed to drive that score upward: Pay down debt, hike those minimum card payments and keep a lid on spending.

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