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Take 5: Tips for financial fitness in 2014

You purchased everything on your significant other’s holiday gift list, vacationed in a warm climate, and splurged on a new pair of boots with which to slosh through the winter snow. Now it’s time to practice a little fiscal responsibility. Even if it’s not your New Year’s resolution, consider these money management tips to improve your financial fitness in 2014 from personal finance planning expert Coleen Pantalone, an associate professor of finance in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business.

  • Don’t buy lattes every single day. Consider them a once-a-week treat and put the money you save toward rent or credit card bills. To do otherwise is to risk frittering away your money by making nickel and dime purchases.
  • If you’re prone to impulse shopping, leave your credit card at home. And don’t open a store credit card—you could always return to the store the next day to buy your new favorite thing. If you do accrue too much credit card debt, try moving the debt to a different credit card with a lower interest rate. The bottom line is you spent the money and need to pay it back.
  • Make sure to get an annual copy of your credit card report from each credit card rating agency, which won’t charge you a dime if you don’t ask for your score. Remember to scan the report for unusual charges in order to protect against credit card fraud.
  • Whether or not you invest your money depends on your financial situation. If you have the cash—if you’ve paid all your bills on time and don’t have credit card debt—then it’s worth putting your money into an IRA. After that, you can start saving for the big-ticket items and thinking about the road to retirement.
  • If you’re interested in learning more about money management, consider taking Northeastern’s personal finance course, which is taught by finance and insurance lecturer Eliot Sherman. In addition, there are many free resources, low-cost education courses, and easy-to-understand books on the topic. Also check out, a free personal finance guide to money management, financial planning, the psychology of spending, and more.

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