In any new project, business, or endeavor you need to strategically start with the end in mind.  That being said, “What do you want to accomplish by the end of 2009?”  Start planning now!  Here is my list of 10 important things you can do to take control of your personal finances in 2009

  1. Go on a Diet! This is a great tip for your physical health and well being, but it is also a great tip for fattening up your pocketbook and not your gut.  The average American spends over $1500 per year eating out.  By cutting this in half and eating healthy stuff that is probably already in your pantry, you can save money and calories!
  2. Go on a Budget!  This seems oversimplified and common sense BECAUSE IT IS!  Everyone knows they should track their spending, but few of us actually make a budget and stick to it.  Make 2009 your year to actually do it.  Sarah and I did it for all of 2008, and we cut our spending by almost $30,000 when compared with our 2007 spending.  We are looking to trim the fat even more in our 2009 budget!
  3. Carpool or Ride Your Bike!  With gas prices at 4 year lows, it would be easy for me to take the H2 out of storage and drive it all over God’s green earth.  No Way.  I’m looking to keep the fuel costs down as much as possible in 2009, and lower my carbon footprint in the process!
  4. Read More!  Knowledge in power, so if you don’t read, your knowledge base is growing at a slower pace than it should be.  There is tons of great information out there to help you spend and save wisely, but you must invest the time to get the knowledge!
  5. Increase Your 401K Contributions!  If you have more than 10 years until retirement, this is a must.  I am bullish on the world economy over the long term.  We will have our ups and downs, but I believe we will continue to grow and innovate.  Don’t stop investing now because of fear, stay the course!  If your retiring soon, or are a nervous investor, talk to an expert.  Advice is always worth what you pay for it!
  6. Start A Business!  Technology and the Internet has made it SO EASY to start your own Home Business, and be successful at it!  Turn your hobbies into cash flow.  If you like knitting, sell your stuff on ebay.  If you collect things, learn how to buy, sell, and trade them for a profit.  Use your imagination, it is easier than you think.  This will be extra work, for sure, but it beats wasting time in from of the TV every day!
  7. Pinch Pennies!  I suggest that in January of each year you revisit every bill that you pay on a monthly basis.  I promise you can find savings very quickly and easily.  Maybe scale back your cable bill, renegotiate your auto and homeowners insurance, use Blockbuster Online instead of driving to the video store every weekend, make your home more energy efficient, find a better rate for any credit card balances you are carrying.  These actions and many more will pay off BIG in 2009
  8. Unclutter You House! Get rid of everything that you don’t at least use once a month.  Sell it on Craigslist or E-bay.  Then make an inventory of all your important possessions and make sure you are properly insured via a homeowners or renters policy.  Make sure you are not overpaying for stuff you no longer own!
  9. Start a Blog!  Blogging is a great way to get your thoughts organized and keep you motivated to make the changes that you need to make.  It is fun and easy to do! 
  10. Work Harder!  Times are tough and many great people are losing their jobs.  My suggestion to you is to work that much harder at whatever it is you do to bring home the bacon.  Become the “we cannot lose, period” employee at your job.  This is often thankless extra effort, but it is worth it in the long run.  I believe great effort is always richly rewarded over the long haul!

Blessings on all your endeavors for 2009.  Let’s make this a year to be smart and move the ball down the field as far as we possibly can!

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