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      Money Talks News: Resolutions 2014: Budgeting

      The most popular New Year's resolutions: get in better shape... both physically and financially.

      So here I am, sitting on my bike, trying to get in better shape physically for the new year. But even while I'm doing this, I can be getting in better shape financially. For example, while I'm riding, I can decide exactly what my financial goals are going to be this year.

      That's step one in basic budgeting: setting goals.

      Whether it's creating a $5,000 emergency fund, a down payment for a new house, or even a vacation, having a specific goal to save for, as well as a target date, radically enhances your odds of success.Step two: tracking expenses. If you haven't joined a free budgeting site, now's the time. You tell it what your budget is in every expense category, it tracks your expenses. Handy, quick and free.

      Step three: staying on track. What you need to be able to do this is to go online, see how you're doing with that budget, see if you're approaching your goals.

      This is something that used to take spreadsheets and pencils, but now I can take my smart phone and I can check this stuff at a stop light.

      Step four: If you need it, get a coach. You can talk to a free credit counselor online, on the phone or in person any time.

      They'll help with just about any budget question, and if you need help with debts, they'll do that too.

      Then there's step five: staying flexible. It's important whether you're talking physical or financial.

      Being flexible means being able to roll with the punches when something happens to that budget, and sticking with it.

      What you need now: some more advice, and I've got tons of it waiting for you right here at

      Just do a search for "Resolutions 2014." For Money Talks News, I'm Stacy Johnson.