Did you make financial resolutions this year? Many Americans say they would like to save more, earn more, control debt and spend more wisely in 2010. But tackling all of our goals at once can be overwhelming! So, here is a year's worth of financial tips tied to major holidays to spread out the load and increase your chances of financial success:
* New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day (or anytime in January): Save more. Put savings on autopilot and skip the suffering of other resolutions (like dieting, exercise and stopping smoking). Set up automatic deductions from your paycheck or auto-transfers from checking to savings. If you don't see the money, chances are you won't even miss it.
* President's Day: Prepare for new credit card rules. The second phase of the Credit Card Act begins in late February. Study your February credit card bills for any changes. Note your payment due date, credit limit and interest rate; all things that might be different with the new law.
* Your birthday: Get your annual credit report. Take advantage of the once-a-year freebie to check your credit report for accuracy and to help avoid identity theft. Apply online at the free government Web site www.annualcreditreport.com.
* Memorial Day: Consider your mortality. Talk to your adult children or your parents — or both — about your estate plans, end of life choices, charitable goals and other wishes. Ask about their plans, too. If you haven't prepared a will or an estate plan, now is the time to do so.
* July Fourth: Declare your financial independence. Now that the year is half over, review your financial status to make sure you're still on track with your savings, investments and debt reduction. Work to become financially free.
* Labor Day: Tame the monthly bills. While relaxing from your labors, take a few moments to review the monthly expenses that eat into your earnings to see if you can find some meaningful savings. Can you cut the cell phone bill? Combine cable, phone and Internet services for significant savings? Refinance the mortgage? Be sure to redirect at least part of any realized savings into a retirement or savings account.
* Thanksgiving: Don't let gift cards go to waste. Before the end of the year, round up all your unused gift cards. Go shopping for yourself or use for gifts for others, swap them with family or friends or donate them to a charity. Some cards may charge fees after a year without use, so use them before they start to lose value.
* Christmas: Reflect on what's most important. Make sure your money gives the most value — resist tempting "wants" to focus on future "needs," support organizations that share your vision and values, share with others less fortunate. You'll find that doing something worthwhile with your money can be priceless.
For more information on financial issues, see my blog at swktalk.com/livingwell. Starting Thursday you'll be able to cast your vote in my informal poll for the top financial goalof the year.