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New Year's resolutions for your pocketbook

If you have made a resolution to earn more money in 1999, you may find that it is easier to save more instead. American Express Financial Advisors offer these tips:

1. Write down everything.

Create a personal budget on paper so you can see exactly where you are spending your money. Then you can find places to economize.

2. Evaluate the "extras."

How important is cable TV for you and your family? Is that daily run to the coffee shop an absolute must? Those few dollars spent here and there add up over the course of a year.

3. The library is free.

If a portion of your income is spent on books, compact discs or videos, consider checking those items out for free at the public library.

4. Reduce entertainment spending.

Take advantage of bargain matinee movies, free public concerts and outdoor activities such as bicycling or walking on the beach.

5. Ignore the impulse to buy fast food.

Skipping one trip a week and eating at home can lead to a noticeable savings in your monthly budget, especially if you have children.

6. Analyze your workday expenses.

Instead of eating in restaurants every day, bring a bag lunch to work. Take your clothes to the dry cleaners early to avoid paying extra for same-day service. Commuting to work by bus could save you money and provide added reading and relaxation time.

7. Pay your bills promptly.

This will help you avoid unnecessary late-payment fees.

8. Watch your phone use.

Make long-distance calls when the rates are cheapest.

9. Pay yourself first.

A payroll savings plan that deducts money directly from your paycheck can help you discipline yourself to save regularly. You may be surprised at how little you'll miss the money if you never touch it.

10. Stick to your goals.

Set specific goals and monitor your progress in meeting them. For example, if you need $500 for a trip, determine how much you need to save each week and record the contributions you make to the trip fund.

_ Compiled by Laura T. Coffey. Source: American Express Financial Advisors (http://www.americanexpress.com)

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