Fiscal Fitness Boot Camp Starts Now

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 support team to keep you fired up and on track, so much the better.

If you've vowed to get your finances on track in 2010, you're in the right place. Today, we kick off our Fiscal Fitness Boot Camp, which will help you get organized, sleep better at night, and put some serious cash back in your wallet. Throughout January, we'll be giving you ways to save thousands of dollars with simple money moves you can accomplish during your lunch break.

Really ... make $2,000 during your lunch breaks!
Yeah, I know that this smacks of some too-good-to-be-true, late-night infomercial. But this one-month program has been test-driven and proven to work.

Last year, we rolled out our first-ever month-long Fiscal Fitness program and showed Fools ways to save a whopping $2,870.07. At the end we asked a few of our newsletter advisors to hand-pick three stocks so that the savings would continue to pay off during the rest of 2009.

Let's see what you'd have in your brokerage account had you invested one-third of that amount ($956.69) in each of our three recommendations:

Recommendation

Return Since Jan. 30, 2009

$956.69 Invested in This Stock Is Now Worth

Costco (Nasdaq: COST  )

33.3%

$1,275.23

Paychex (Nasdaq: PAYX  )

30.5%

$1,248.42

National Oilwell Varco (NYSE: NOV  )

71.1%

$1,636.80

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Though an imperfect example (since you would have amassed that $2,870 during the course of one year, not just in a single month), the results are pretty eye-opening. We benefited from some pretty good timing -- yet even so, plenty of stocks did better, from popular Fool picks like Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) to back-from-the-brink comeback stories like Ford Motor (NYSE: F  ) and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS  ) .

Still, it boils down to this: Had you resisted the siren song of a new flat-screen TV or stuffing the dough into a coffee can to bury in the backyard, that $2,870.07 you saved would be worth $4,160.45 today. Not bad, eh? So are you ready to do it all over again?

Save it again, Sam
This year's Fiscal Fitness regime will be similar to 2009's month-long money workout. Like last year, we'll post our best money-saving tips each weekday through the month of January. Again, we've streamlined each daily task so that it can be accomplished in less time than it takes to wolf down your lunch. (Immediate gratification is a powerful motivator, after all.)

Many of these tips will be familiar to Fiscal Fitness '09 alumni -- that's because some money-saving strategies are worth repeating, and worth revisiting every year. But we'll have some new twists on old strategies. So we encourage you to do as little or as much as your time and temperament allow.

Whether you're new to the Fiscal Fitness boot camp or an old hand, don't be shy about asking questions, offering encouragement, or bragging about your money saving successes along the way. We encourage frequent use of the "comments" function on these pages. That's because ...

You play a key role this month
One of the most essential elements of completing any successful program is having a support system. In this regime, that support system is you -- our community of Fools. As participants (or even just observers), you can help your fellow Fools stay on track and save some serious coin during the next several weeks.

As you tackle each financial task, chime in via the "comments" section below. Ask questions. Offer answers. Wave your virtual pompoms. Share your secret sauce -- tricks and tactics that have helped you save.

The more virtual cheerleaders, sharers of wisdom and all-around good guys and gals we have participating, the more motivated we'll all be to make January a finance-changing month.

Ready? Set. Save!
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 layabouts (yeah, we're not going to let you give up on tackling your finances that easily).

Kick off 2010 with a commitment to saving money -- a commitment that all of us can follow through to the glorious end.

So let's start right now with a little spending reflection. Where do you spend the most money? And in what areas do you think you could cut back and save some serious money? Do tell in the comments area below.

In addition to completing the Fiscal Fitness Boot Camp, 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. Costco and Paychex are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Costco, Ford Motor, and National Oilwell Varco are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Paychex is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. The Fool owns shares of Costco. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.


Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (38)

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 04, 2010, at 5:10 PM, Fool wrote:

    SIRI a "Fool pick"? Are you f'n kidding? You bash all year and now want credit after changing your mind late in the game?

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2010, at 5:55 PM, warrenrial wrote:

    Sell SIRI, they will never make it in 2010. Incompetent board of directors.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2010, at 6:32 PM, yahoomania wrote:

    SIRI was one of your "popular Fool picks?" Are you freaking kidding me? You guys have bashed this stock incessantly the whole year!!!!!!!!! Now, you claim you picked it? Your job is to disseminate the news. You are not stock analysts. Your opinion is meaningless. Your only motive can be to bash the stock. Not you personally, but Motley Fool as a company. Garbage, yellow press.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2010, at 10:13 AM, TMFKris wrote:

    After rent, I spend most of my money on food, I think. I'm not big on gadgets and I don't drive many miles. Where could I cut back and save serious money? I could get rid of my car; I'm in walking distance of tons of stores, but I would really hate the lack of freedom and dependence on others' schedules to get places.

    Realistically, I could food-shop smarter -- coupons, lists, less prepared food. I've already reduced restaurant spending. Well, nothing ground-breaking here.

    Kris (Motley Fool copyeditor)

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2010, at 10:37 AM, reallyalldone wrote:

    Go to the beginning of the LBYM board and/or the links to the accumulated tips Hawk the stocks at the end of the series - when you've actually helped people save money.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2010, at 1:45 PM, ProducedByJoel wrote:

    Clearly we spend the biggest chunk of our income on housing (mortgage payment) We too have already cut back our discretionary spending in '09: restaurant dining is down to maybe twice a month in 09 from at least once a week in'08 .(we do go out for "cheap pizza once a week though…6.99 for a large pie, not bad);

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