We want your resolutions – and we’re paying $100 for the best one!

Have you achieved your 2011! Or would you like to share this year’s? Jump on that one-horse sleigh, come on over to our Facebook page and post about it! Let us know what steps you took or plan to take to accomplish your goal. The most helpful and compelling post will win $100. Extra points for including a photo of your motivation (white-sand beach in Rio to help you save for vacation, for example) or your accomplishment (new car with or without a bow on it). Now, here are some of our tips for staying on track with your resolutions this year.

How to keep your New Year’s resolutions this time around

You wake up on New Year’s Day feeling like a herd of goats spent the night in your mouth, and with a considerably lighter wallet. As you stagger to the bathroom, you catch sight of your tummy, enlarged from weeks of eggnog and holiday cookies. “Ugh. I’ve got to get a grip,” you muse – and this year’s set of New Year’s resolutions is born.

Sound familiar? Making New Year’s resolutions is a noble, and universal, pursuit. Turns out that 58 percent of those younger than 45 said they would vow to improve an aspect of their life in a Maris poll last December. They, and you, can succeed in cutting back on cookie and credit card consumption, stick to a budget and even save for a car or house, even though it isn’t always easy. Here are some tips to make those resolutions reality.

1. Moderation is the better part of valor.
If you set the bar too high, you’re setting yourself up for failure. “But I really want to save $5,000,” you protest. OK, that’s a long-term goal, so how about approaching it in reasonable stages? Vow to save $500 by June. Then when you find yourself succeeding or even ahead of schedule, you’ll be so juiced, continuing to put money away won’t seem as onerous.

2. Make a specific plan.
So you’re going to save $500 by June? Figure out the exact way you’ll do it. You could ask your HR department to put $50 per paycheck in your savings account (assuming you are paid twice a month) and bring your lunch to work one or two days a week, as one example.

For some further tips on saving money, check out:
Savings: The Key to Success

Here’s a great approach that goes beyond savings:
90 Day Fitness Program

3. Harness the wisdom of crowds.
Tell your friends you’ve decided to save money and will be skipping those pub crawls and fancy-schmantzy restaurants. Enlist them in the effort. That way they won’t unknowingly sabotage you by issuing tempting invitations. You could have potlucks instead, killing two birds with one stone by saving money and calories by making economical and nutritious dishes. And for sure, include your significant other.

4. Get real.
This applies both to making the resolutions and keeping them. Deep in your heart, you know how much is too much. Or if you don’t, buckle down and make a budget. This Money Management Planner can help.

Maybe you’re a sharp dresser and tend to spend too much on clothes. You know you can afford to buy a new item of clothing every couple of weeks – but not every week. Write it down so you know what you can and can’t do.

5. Go heavy on the carrot, not so much on the stick.
If you end up blowing your budget on a hot date, so be it. Pretend you’re talking to a friend:Hey, we all slip up sometimes. Remember, all last week you brought your lunch to work!” Then, when you scrupulously skip that grande mocha peppermint cappuccino the next day, pull out your favorite DVD and enjoy it as a reward, or check out that book you’ve wanted to read from the library. Pat yourself on the back. You’ve earned it!

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