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With the New Year upon us, many people are thinking about what they want out of 2018, what goals they’d like to accomplish and what changes they’d like to make. After the holidays have come and gone, America enters into a new season, that of New Year’s resolutions.

While gym membership skyrockets and bookstores sell out of the latest fad-diet books, millions of Americans will quietly be thinking of how they can shore up their financial situation. For the middle class, blue-collar workers and low-income individuals, this can seem like a daunting task.

But it is doable. Whatever your financial situation, there are easy steps you can take that will help you save, get out of debt and create better financial habits.

1. Set long-term financial goals

Looking ahead 10 years, what is the most important thing on your financial horizon? Is it paying down your student loans or saving for a down payment for a home? Setting a concrete financial goal is a simple though fundamental step in achieving financial security.

2. Make a plan and write it out

You know where you want to go, but how will you get there? Creating a road map to bring you from here to there will help guide you in such crucial areas as: budget allocation, amount you need to save each month, milestones to check your progress and more.

3. Come up with a steady, realistic way to reduce your debt

You’re not alone: There are very few people who are free of debt, and each day, people pay their way out of debt. You just need to figure out a way to do this. The best way to do this is to start small. Start with the highest interest rate debt and pay a little bit of the principal off each week. In time, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

4. Save, save, save

While you’re paying off debt and just making enough to get to the next paycheck, it can seem like saving anything is completely out of the question. But just like paying off debt, a little bit here and a little bit there will eventually add up. Just think, what if you could put aside just $10 a week? That’s over $500 a year, and over $5,000 in 10 years.

5. Cut out the fat

You don’t need to cut out all the little pleasures in life to save money, you just need to alter some habits. For instance, instead of buying coffee and lunch during the day, bring it from home. Cancel your movie streaming service and rent DVDs from the library. You’ll still enjoy yourself, and could save $100 or more each month.

6. Earn extra money by putting your hobby to work

The so-called sharing economy has made it easier than ever for people to earn extra income. If you have a creative side, say you’re a knitter or woodworker, you can sell your creations online. You could also drive for a ride-sharing service in your off time or rent out a room when you’re out of town.

Most New Year’s resolutions fail because people are too ambitious with their goals. Getting into good financial shape should be an ongoing resolution that involves small, manageable changes anyone can make! For more financial resources, visit www.vmfhomeloan.com.

Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc., 500 Alcoa Trail, Maryville, TN 37804, 865-380-3000, NMLS #1561, (http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/), AZ Lic. #BK-0902616, Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law license, GA Residential Mortgage (Lic. #6911), Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee, Licensed by the NH Banking Department, MT Lic. #1561, Licensed by PA Dept. of Banking.

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