"A resolution without a plan is really just a wish," she says. "Everyone needs a plan for how their money gets spent, because the money is going to get spent, regardless if you plan to spend it or not." Trustee in bankruptcy and debt professional Leanne Salyzyn doesn't like to use the word budget, but she's all about spending plans. We picked her expert brain for practical tips for making the most of your dough.
Set a realistic goal
Pick a number, any number, make sure it's specific and then write it down. "Come up with an exact amount, whether it's 'I want to save $2,000 to go on a trip in May' or 'I want to have my Visa paid off in full by December 31,' you've got to set down those parameters," says Salyzyn.
Start spreadin' the news
"Tell everybody about it—you're more likely to achieve the financial resolution if you have support," says Salyzyn. The more people you blab about your goals to, the more accountable you might feel to follow up on it. Chances are if you tell all your pals you're saving up for a sweet vacation, when spring comes they'll be asking about it.
Be positive, but also practical
"We're eternal optimists and hope is a wonderful thing," says Salyzyn. "But we can't plan on what-ifs, we have to plan on what's happening." She says we shouldn't rely on potential bonuses or mega tax refunds to save the day, or cover costs.
Sure, we're all pumped about our 2015 goals now, but what happens when we hit the wall—or fall off the wagon? That's where daily, weekly and monthly routines help to keep you in line, and tracking your spending can help you find bad habits and create better ones. "Maybe you're saying, 'I don't really have any money left over,' but if you look where you're spending you'll find holes in your pockets. It could be going to the dollar store, or a daily Starbucks. We take $5 here or $10 there for granted." Think about this, a fancy coffee before work every day adds up to around $1,080 —there's your return flight.