Since you're spending time here on Fool.com, I'm going to assume you are extremely attractive, charming, and intelligent. Nonetheless, perhaps this year you decided to make a few New Year's resolutions. It's hard to improve on perfection, but that doesn't mean you can't try. I respect that.
Beware, though, of the resolution that's in its death throes by now. I speak of grandiose plans such as "lose 30 pounds by March," "work out every day and love it," and "pay off the credit card even if we have to sell the kids to do it." Great big resolutions can easily turn into great big flops, because if you miss your goal by even a little bit -- say you skip the gym on Tuesday, or you can't find a buyer for your sullen teen -- you're tempted to just give up entirely.
So why not start with just one thing? Success -- especially of the financial kind -- can often come from the easy, the painless, and the gradual.
1. The easy
For example, you could begin with a call to your automobile insurer. Progressive will cut you a deal if you pay in full, and offers other money-saving options; Berkshire Hathaway's
For example, you should always shop around -- rates can vary widely for the same coverage from different providers. Look for the best deal, but keep in mind that the company's financial stability is important (A.M. Best and other resources can help you research this). In addition, you can save a bundle by raising your deductible (assuming you can come up with the increased amount of cash if something happens). The Insurance Information Institute notes that raising your deductible to $500 from $200 can cut your collision and comprehensive coverage cost by 15% to 30% or more. Finally, consider one-stop shopping for all your insurance needs; many insurers will cut you a deal if you insure both your car and your home (and your boat, and your motorcycle ... ) with them.
2. The painless
Another easy savings win? Prescription drugs. Yes, there's a Rite Aid
After that, mass merchants like Wal-Mart
No matter where you get your drugs, if you take meds in pill form, ask your doctor if he or she will prescribe you double the dosage with a note to take only half. This can effectively cut the cost of your medication in half (30 days' supply becomes 60 days' if you take only half a pill at a time). Be safe and use a pill cutter, though; they're inexpensive, and your teeth will thank you.
3. The gradual
These and other Foolish tips can help you keep your hands on more of your hard-earned money, which is wonderful -- but once you've saved it, what do you do with it? Well, we're Fools, so obviously we're going to suggest investing. And with discount brokerages such as TD AMERITRADE
Small steps like these add up more quickly than you'd think, and they can be a great beginning to a solid financial future. If you're ready to go a step further, check out the "Year of Fiscal Fitness" special report available as part of our Rule Your Retirement service. With a 30-day free trial of Rule Your Retirement, you can see the entire free report, which is yours to keep.
You'll also be able to talk finance and stocks with advisor Robert Brokamp, access our archive of all past issues, and chat with other subscribers on our discussion boards. The journey from fiscal weakling to the Charles Atlas of greenbacks begins with a single step, so get started now!
Ellen Bowman doesn't own stocks mentioned in this article. Berkshire Hathaway, Costco, and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Berkshire Hathaway, Costco, and Charles Schwab are Motley Fool Stock Advisor choices. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Costco, and has a disclosure policy.