Keeping resolutions

Published: Monday, January 24, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 23, 2005 at 6:08 p.m.
A new year means a new start, so it's time to dust off those resolutions and get down to business. We put our shoppers on the block to find the best gear and guidance to steer you to success.
    Any resolution worth its salt is going to cost you something. Want to lose weight? Join a gym. Want to advance your career? Invest in education. Bottom line: You need financial security. So make it your first goal to get your finances in order. It doesn't have to cost a fortune.
    Step one is to find out where you stand. Get a credit report from the aptly named to find out what lenders know about you. The only cost is time. Take some to study the reports and contest questionable charges or close unused lines of credit.
    Step two is equally free. Compare the rates on your current debt - car loans, mortgage, even credit cards - to those offered at Then vie for a better deal on Trade those high rates for lower ones, but be sure to read the fine print.
    Step three is where resolve comes in. Resolve to put aside a bit to debt and a bit to savings with each paycheck. If you have your eye on a plasma screen or are planning a trip to Paris, consider opening a separate account and resolving to add a bit each month until you can pay for your prize in cash.
    It's not a get-rich-quick scheme, but understanding what comes in and where it goes is a great way to meet some of those more costly goals.
    If you are one of the many resolved to seek out a healthier diet in the new year, consider subscribing to Cooking Light magazine ($18 annually) at This monthly publication is dedicated to the proposition that dishes can be both tasty and health-conscious. In addition to lots of recipes (with breakdowns on fat, calories and more), the magazine also features articles on food, exercise and healthy living.
    Before that first issue arrives, you can get a jump-start with the purchase of Cooking Light's "5 Ingredient, 15 Minute Cookbook" ($31.46). The abundance of easy-to-prepare meals in this volume should help fend off excuses about not having time for anything but fast-food pickup.
    The new year is a good time to resolve to spend less, save more and generally try to whip your financial affairs in order. So here are a couple of suggestions, courtesy of Pamela Yip, The Dallas Morning News' excellent personal-finance writer.
    Yip said it would be wise to consider a software product like Quicken 2005 Premier, which can help you track expenditures, monitor investments, plan your financial goals and do a million other things. (It costs about $55 on
    But she really recommended two books, neither new but both purveyors of timeless wisdom. The first is "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko.
    Says Yip: "For those of us who envision millionaires as flashy types, this book shatters that stereotype. It really shows you that the way to become a millionaire is to live simply, spend wisely and save abundantly."
    She also endorses "The Richest Man in Babylon" by George S. Clason, which explains how principles of sound money management date back to biblical times.
    Here's the best part. You can get used copies of both books for less than $4 apiece on So here's our salute to sound money management: Don't spend more than necessary on products to help you manage money.
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