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Once again it's the time of year when we consider what we want to do better next year. If history shows that your resolutions usually die a quiet death sometime in February or March, perhaps this is the year to re-think how you set your resolutions!

The key: resolutions should be very clear and specific. Some examples:

n NOT: I'm going to get out of debt.

Instead: When I pay my credit card bills, I'm going to pay everything I charged during the month plus an extra $100 each month.

Or better yet, if possible: I'm going to pay my credit card bills in full every month.

n NOT: I'm going to save more money.

Instead: I'm going to increase my 401k contribution by 1% of my income.

Or: I'm going to save $20/week by bringing my lunch to work at least 4 days/week, and actually depositing the $20 in my savings account every week.

You may recognize this strategy as part of the SMART goal-setting strategy. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-defined. If you're looking for ideas on how to improve your finances, check out the MoneyTip$ Extension Blog at blogs.extension.iastate.edu/moneytips/.

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