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      Money Talks: Resolutions 2013: Budgeting 101

      The most popular New Year's resolutions revolve around getting in better physical shape, and getting in better financial shape.

      But whether it's body or bank account, if you've failed at resolutions in the past, it's probably because you skipped at least one of three critical steps.

      Step one is to set a goal. Maybe you want to buy a house, a car, or maybe pay off your credit cards. You have to have a specific goal - how much money, by exactly when. And that goal has to be super-important. If it's not, you're not going to get there.

      Step two - track your progress. When it comes to money, the way to do that is a spending plan, also known as a budget. All you're doing is tracking money coming in, money going out, and how much you're putting toward your goal. There's tons of free technology out there that makes it easy.

      Step three? Stay on top of it. Put reminders everywhere, and keep visualizing your goal. Keep reviewing your progress by studying your spending plan. If that goal was important to you, you're going to find a way to achieve it.

      Bottom line? The way to stay in shape, whether it's physical or financial, is to set a goal, track your progress and and use tools that will help. I've got more information and links at Just do a search for "2013 Resolutions."

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