Money Resolutions are Best for the

Near Year

Money worries are the most common cause of after-the-holiday stress, according to the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health. The 2012 updated study showed that parents are more stressed than all other demographic groups by finances.

Money isn't everyone's number one worry, but if it's yours, why not consider the following New Year's resolutions to improve your financial life?

Track your spending. If you haven't purchased financial accounting software or set up a reliable accounting method of your own, this is the year to do it. Diligent budgeting and expense tracking is the first critical step to getting personal finances in order.

Cut your credit card debt. If you can't ever seem to get yourself completely out of credit card debt, make this the year to do it. Take inventory of your balances, figure out if you can consolidate them under your lowest rate card, and resolve to pay off an amount that exceeds the minimum -- on time, every month. Pay cash from now on.

Save more. If you haven't signed up for your employer's 401(k) plan, this is the year. And resolve to save at least five to 10 percent of your take-home pay as you're able to afford, and place the maximum in whatever retirement savings plans you qualify for.

Cook more. Even if you can't boil water, eating out is one of the biggest drains on the American household budget. Start small, resolve to cook at least two meals a week you like that will be cheaper at home.

Consider advice on taxes and planning. Maybe you've always winged it with your taxes and considered your company 401(k) the ticket to your financial future. If you are like most Americans, chances are your planning could use a few suggestions. Start getting references on good tax professionals and consider sitting down with a financial planning professional to discuss your current retirement savings picture and what you can do to improve it.

Attack that miscellaneous column. Do you really need deluxe cable? How much are you paying for your Internet service? Can you wear a sweater around the house and lower the thermostat? In every budget, there are items that can be cut – or at least trimmed. Take a hard look at all your "essentials" to see how essential they really are. Aim for a target of at least 10 percent and start setting that money aside on a regular basis.

Get ahead on your mortgage. This advice isn't for everybody, but if you've paid off your credit cards by paying more than the minimum, apply the same principle to your mortgage payment. Every dollar you prepay will potentially save thousands in interest over the life of the loan if you plan to stay in your home long-term. However, don't short your investment plans to do it.

The HealthQuest EAP has resources that can help. The current financial climate has many of us in an uneasy state of worry and anxiety. The HealthQuest Employee Assistance Program, at 1-888-275-1205, option 7, understands your concerns and offers free resources that can help you successfully improve your financial position.

  • Personal Money Management Advice - Assistance with home mortgage questions, suggestions on getting out of debt, and help with creating a workable home budget.
  • Confidential Personal Counseling - Call 24/7 for an appointment with a caring EAP counselor in your community.
  • Visit Us Online - Go to for more information.