That's right: On top of shedding some of that holiday weight, it's high time to shed your personal financial burden as well.
According to a December release from Allianz Life Insurance, 30% of Americans say that achieving "financial stability" is their biggest priority for 2014 behind getting healthier (the main goal for 43% of U.S. adults).
For that 30%, or even for the 43% of physically fit-minded Americans when they get around to it, Christopher McGill, president and CEO of Philadelphia's East River Bank, has some advice for consumers fighting personal debt this year:
Look in the mirror. McGill says the first step to take to reduce personal debt is a tough one -- it's to "pay yourself first." Few consumers want to do that if it means bypassing or short-changing other household bills. But that really isn't a big issue, he says. "Every month you sit down to write checks and pay bills online," he says. "The first person you should be putting on your payroll? Yourself!" He says to aim for 6% of your income in personals savings each month, an amount that shouldn't eat into the household budget.
A bonus? Use the "thirds rule." If you earned a holiday bonus in 2013, good for you. But instead of spending the cash on a new big-screen television or trip to the Bahamas, abide by this rule: "Take one third and invest it or put it directly into your savings, take another third and put it towards a past debt and take the final third and treat yourself," McGill advises.