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Take 5 in 2015: Tips for financial fitness

You pur­chased every­thing on your sig­nif­i­cant other’s hol­iday gift list, shelled out big bucks for a five-star dinner on New Year’s Eve, and splurged on a new winter wardrobe with which to steel yourself against the impending freeze. 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 from per­sonal finance plan­ning expert Coleen Pan­talone, an asso­ciate pro­fessor of finance in the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness.

Have dinner for lunch

Make lunch from dinner leftovers. That way, you’ll save money and eat better—assuming you’re a good cook! Feel free to eat out every once in a while, just make sure you’re not dining at five-star restaurants.

Plan a budget

First, figure out how much money you spend. Track—and categorize—your spending for a week or two, separating the obligatory purchases from the frivolous ones. Then, find a way to eliminate your poor spending habits, freeing up the money you need to pay rent or go out with your friends.

Pay off your debt

Pay off high interest debt first, starting with your credit card debt. If you accrue too much credit card debt, try moving the debt to a different credit card with a lower interest rate. At the same time, be sure to make your student loan payments, since defaulting could hurt your credit rating.

Use a microchip credit card

Switch from a magnetic strip credit card to a microchip credit card. Cards equipped with the microchip will be more secure than those with the magnetic strip, especially in a world where identify theft is rampant. Many major U.S. banks have begun offering them, including Chase, Citi, and Bank of America.

Educate yourself

If you’re interested in learning more about money management, consider taking Northeastern’s personal finance course. In addition, there are many free resources, low-cost education courses, and websites on the topic, like balancetrack.org, a free personal finance guide to money management, financial planning, and the psychology of spending.

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