Money & Career

Do a four-week financial cleanse!

Adopt these healthy money habits over the next month to start the new year off on the right financial foot.

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From gifts to food and entertainment, you’ve probably racked up quite a tally of festive debt. January is the perfect time to do a financial cleanse and start the new year off right. So rid yourself of all that toxic holiday debt and get yourself in better financial shape for 2013 with this four-week guide to better money health.

Week 1: Meal planning

Start making a list of the food you’ll need each week, including dinners and lunches and meals that make the most of your leftovers. Make a pact with yourself to stay clear of takeout and trying exercising those culinary muscles instead. Want more tips on how to cut your grocery bill in half? Here are nine tips to help you save more.

Week 2: Pay off your credit cards

In an ideal world, you wouldn’t be going into debt over the holidays. But if you do end up owing more than you can pay off in full, make sure you don’t carry that debt on your credit card. With double-digit interest rates, you’ll end up paying way too much in interest. Ask your bank for a line of credit at a lower interest rate and then pay your card balance off in full. Sure, you’ll still have debt, but you won’t be piling on even more in high-interest payments.

Week 3: Review your services

From insurance to your cell phone bill, you’re paying a ton of money for services you might just be able to get cheaper elsewhere. Or try asking for a better interest rate at the bank — some banks offer no fee accounts and higher rates on savings accounts that can give your money a chance to grow.

Week 4: Make these three words your 2013 motto: “Pay yourself first”

Open up a savings account and set up automatic payments to it every month. Whether it’s $50 or $500, paying yourself on a monthly basis will help you grow your nest egg and make you feel more empowered about your money and your financial situation. By January 2014, you’ll be in much better shape that you are today if you adopt these healthy money habits.