5 ways to get your finances in order in 2013

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SALT LAKE CITY — The new year is just a few days away, and for many, that means taking a look back and deciding to make a change for the future.

Getting finances in order is a very popular resolution, but saying "I'll save money" it isn't enough; there are a few things you need to do in order to keep those hard-earned dollars in your pocket.

First, It might seem obvious, but make a budget, and make a plan for sticking to the budget.

"Until you really know where you're at, you can't say I'm not going to spend any money on clothing or food," said Eddie Snow with Knox Capital Group. "It doesn't really work that way."

It's as easy as that: Know where you're finances are and set clear goals about where you want to get.

Financial resolutions:
  • Make a budget.
  • Plan how to stick to your budget.
  • Use cash over cards.
  • Look into an IRA or 529 account.
  • Reward yourself.

"Think of your future self as a different person and try a little harder to push that person in the direction of saving, as opposed to spending," Scott Schaefer with the David Eccles School of Business said.

Next, use cash. Studies show that people who use debit and credit cards spend more. Having that cash in hand turns money into a physical thing that you have to hand over to a cashier.

"Some people, when you're pulling out a $20 and you're buying something with 20 bucks, that might be a little harder than just swiping a debit card or a credit card and not even paying attention to that," Snow said.

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There are several tax savings vehicles available, too — things like individual retirement accounts or 529 college savings accounts. You can also look at the opposite end of the equation and the income you're bringing in.

"In retirement years, trying to do some income planning can be just as effective as expenses, even more so," Snow said.

Last, this might seem counterintuitive, but reward yourself. With any goal, you're more likely to succeed in the long run if you treat yourself along the way. But of course, always keep it within reason.

"Come up with small rewards that are meaningful to you, that you can indulge in, if you meet your financial goals, that's a real positive," Schaefer said.

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