Fiscal Fitness '09: 1 Month, 2 Grand, 3 Stocks

The best New Year's resolutions -- meaning ones people actually achieve -- are clearly defined with explicit action steps, a hard deadline, and an enticing payoff. If accompanied by a team of on-call supporters, even better.

Well, Fools, our "1 month, 2 grand, 3 stocks" resolution is all that and more. In just one month, we'll show you how to save at least $2,000 to invest in one (or all) of our top stock advisors' three best -- and timeliest -- stock ideas. Oh, and your personal cheerleaders -- jingled jester caps and all -- are already waiting to cheer you on.

Just one month. Really.
Saving money may be a rediscovered national pastime, but that still doesn't make it a palatable gig. So we condensed an entire year's worth of our best savings tricks into just one month (20 weekdays, to be exact). All January, we'll dole out specific money-saving tips every weekday. (Bookmark alert!: We'll add each to the bottom of this page as we go.)

During your four-week Fiscal Fitness challenge, you'll cut costs in the major areas of spending -- workaday expenses (like that cable TV bill and the Incredible Disappearing ATM Withdrawal), big-ticket items (travel, insurance premiums), irritating budget busters (groceries, gas), and finance-related fees (fund costs, brokerage charges).

Every Friday, we'll feature a new tip as well as a roundup of some of the great money-saving ideas that crop up on our dedicated "Fiscal Fitness '09" discussion board. Check it out, and chime in -- some of the smartest members of the Fool.com community are there right now to cheer you on.

Make $2,000 during your lunch breaks
Many of our money-saving tips will pay off instantly. (Spoiler alert!: See the entries for Jan. 8, 14, and 20, for example.) Others will pay off over time (e.g. Jan. 7, 21, and 26). We've done the math and calculated at least $2,000 in potential savings -- some serious coin that can seriously pay off over time. More on that last point in just a moment.

Since you have a day job (or a DVD queue to catch up on), we've made it so that each daily task can be accomplished in less time than it takes to wolf down your lunch. That said, we encourage you to do as little or as much as your time and temperament allow. (Extra credit means extra money in your pocket, after all.) If you discover more ways to save -- some tricks and tactics of your own -- please share.

By the end of January, you'll have a few fistfuls of extra cash. And while all that dough can certainly buy you a nice flat-screen TV or one heckuva happy hour, we have an even better idea for how to "spend" it.

Three top stock picks for new money
As easy as it will be to achieve each and every one of our money-saving tips, we still think you deserve a reward for your work. We have a special treat in store for you: On Jan. 30, we'll present three timely stock picks from our market-beating subscription-only investment services.

Stock ideas? In this market? Absolutely. In fact, there is no better time -- nor has there been for quite a long while -- to invest in stocks. To put it in real-estate terms, it's a buyer's market, baby. And you're sitting on the right side of the table for this transaction.

Even some of the market's best historical performers are at bargain-basement prices. Just take a look:

Stock

Total Return, 1997 to 2007

2008 Return

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  )

5,936.7%

(56.2%)

Express Scripts (Nasdaq: ESRX  )

1,846.7%

(24.8%)

Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  )

1,232.2%

(44.4%)

Freeport McMoRan (NYSE: FCX  )

705.7%

(75.7%)

Tiffany (NYSE: TIF  )

447.6%

(45.2%)

General Dynamics (NYSE: GD  )

377.2%

(33%)

Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  )

326.7%

(51%)

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

No excuses. This is one resolution tailor-made for commitment-phobes (it'll take just one month!), reluctant savers (we're sure you've got $2,000 hiding somewhere!), and opportunity-seeking investors (three hand-picked stocks from our advisors!).

By the end of January, with the money you save throughout the month, we'll get you started on your illustrious investment career. To get started on this potentially life-changing month, simply bookmark this page (or sign up for our daily FoolWatch email, which will feature every tip), and head to the "Fiscal Fitness '09" discussion board.

Week 1  -- Cutting back on everyday expenses

Week 2 -- Saving on infrequent expenses

Week 3 -- Sweating the small stuff for big savings

Week 4 -- Padding your wallet by organizing your finances

The Grand Finale

In addition to completing the Fool's Fiscal Fitness '09 challenge, Dayana Yochim has vowed to eat one green thing (unprocessed green thing, that is) per day for at least a week, possibly two. She owns none of the companies mentioned in this article. Starbucks and Best Buy are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Starbucks, Best Buy, and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Starbucks and Best Buy. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (52)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2009, at 2:09 PM, meche007 wrote:

    So... where is today's tip?

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2009, at 2:10 PM, TMFTheDoctor wrote:

    Kind of wondering that myself.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2009, at 8:34 PM, skelator wrote:

    "Every Friday, we'll feature a new tip"

    paragraph 5

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2009, at 9:01 AM, MJSlider8 wrote:

    "All January, we'll dole out specific money-saving tips every weekday."

    paragraph 3

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2009, at 12:32 PM, TMFSchool wrote:

    Sorry, should have been more clear. We started the "tips" portion of the program on Monday the 5th (http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2009/01/05/fiscal-fitn.... (I don't know about you, but I certainly needed the three-day weekend to mentally prepare to take on 2009.)

    We've got four weeks of money-saving/money-making advice mapped out (Monday through Friday) through the 31st. We'll add links to each at the end of this article as they are published. So please stay tuned -- and also chime in on the Fiscal Fitness '09 discussion board.

    Best,

    Dayana

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2009, at 12:33 PM, TMFSchool wrote:

    Doh! The link in my post doesn't appear to work. To see Tip No. 1 scroll up and you'll find a link to it under "Week 1 -- cutting back on everyday expenses."

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