2012 financial resolutions

It's that time of year again, when many of us pledge to lose weight, save money or pay off debt. Seeing an impact in your wallet doesn't require a major financial overhaul, either. Kelli Grant, Sr. Consumer Reporter for SmartMoney.com, offers five resolutions to help you get ahead financially in 2012.

First, revise your debt payments.  A study earlier this year found that most people are paying off debt the wrong way. We tend to tackle small balances first, but we should be going after whatever balance has the highest interest rate. That will help you pay off debts faster, and can save hundreds of dollars in interest.

Take a moment to reassess your bills.  Use free comparison sites like BillShrink.com and WhiteFence.com to reassess your cellphone and cable bills.  Take a look at insurance policies and credit cards, too. Tweaking just those four things can save you as much as $2,000 this year. It will only take just an hour or two of work.

It's also a good time to resolve to clip more coupons.  Avid clippers can rack up $1,000 in savings a year on things they would have bought anyway. There are a host of great sites, such as Coupons.com and RetailMeNot.com, with print out and online codes. More companies have mobile offers now, too, so you're not out of luck even if you forget to bring coupons with you. Just pull them up on your phone.

Also, don't forget to pay yourself first.  Americans still aren't saving nearly enough. It's a smart idea to have at least three months worth of living expenses stashed away. Have that automatically debited from your account each time you get a paycheck. Some banks are still offering 1% yields, too, which is five times the national average.

And finally, take your other resolutions and tie them in financially.  You might find it easier to stick to other resolutions if you can find a money angle there. Losing weight or quitting smoking, for example, can cut 30% from your life and health insurance bills. Some companies also offer financial incentives of up to $500 to reward healthy behaviors, as well as discounts of programs to help you meet those goals.

For more information on how to save in 2012, and other consumer advice, visit SmartMoney.com.

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