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Make some New Year's resolutions for your money

Your 2018 financial plan
Make some New Year's resolutions for your money 03:39

Americans are optimistic about their financial future: 76 percent said they expect 2018 to be a better financial year than 2017, according to a recent study by Fidelity Investments. But only one-third of people plan to make financial New Year's resolutions for 2018 -- that's compared to 43 percent in 2014.

"I think our big surprise was the reduction in people who felt they were going to make a financial resolution. Maybe it's a sense of feeling of more secure that made them say that," Maura Cassidy, vice president of retirement at Fidelity Investments told CBS MoneyWatch. "I think that's what we are concerned about too. We want to make sure that people don't lean back and not participate. They should review their portfolio, they should review their plans."

Top resolutions

Not sure where to start on making a New Year's resolution? It's a good idea to take stock of where you stand financially. Are you keeping track of how much money you're spending and saving each month? If not, maybe it's time to make a more concrete budget for how you manage your money.

For many people, paying down debt is a top priority for the new year. American households have a combined $904 billion in credit card debt, according to NerdWallet's annual debt survey. That's an average of about $15,000 per household … paying $904 per year in interest alone.

Retirement: How young people can save for the future 10:37

"What's surprising is how credit card debt is still growing at 8 percent a year and we think of the economy as doing pretty well right now," Kim Palmer, NerdWallet credit card expert, said in an interview with CBS MoneyWatch. "But that's a big reminder that a lot of people are still struggling, and as a result they have credit card debt."

If getting rid of high interest credit card debt is your 2018 financial resolution, consider contacting your card company to see if you can arrange for a reduction in interest rates until you pay off that balance, or speak with a credit counselor to look for ways to consolidate debt.

Another possible resolution for the new year, and beyond? Starting to save for retirement. Most financial experts recommend being conservative in your estimates of how long you'll be able to work and what you can realistically plan as a retirement income (whether it's 75 percent or more of your preretirement salary). Depending on when you retire and begin taking Social Security benefits, you may need to have as much as 10 times your preretirement income saved

Budget or bust: How to save money 08:03

If your employer matches contributions to a 401(k) plan and you haven't started contributing, you may be losing out on a big benefit. For many retirement plans you can contribute only up to a certain amount of money each year.  So if you miss a year, you can't double contributions next year once you've reached the limit, and you can only do catch-up contributions after age 50. By that point, you may lose the chance for your investments to grow over a longer period.  

So if you haven't started contributing anything to a retirement fund, 2018 could be a great year to start. 

"People need to have their long-term goals and their short term goals," Cassidy said, noting that making good money choices a regular habit is key to keeping financial resolutions. "We definitely encourage that," she said. "It's so much easier to save $50 per week than to save $2,000 at the end of the year." 

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