Have you given up making New Year's resolutions because it's just plain dumb to make promises you're not likely to keep? Before you throw out the baby with the bath water, why not shift your thinking to resolutions that you can keep — and save some serious cash in the process?
1) Review all of your insurance coverage. Raise deductibles to the highest level feasible. Drop collision coverage on cars with a market value of less than $2,500. Carry life insurance equal to five times the insured's annual salary. A housewife should be insured based on no less than $50,000 per year.
2) Create a list with current data regarding all loans, insurance policies, important documents, savings and investments.
3) Inventory your safe-deposit box. Do not keep the only copy of your will or family trust in a safe-deposit box. Often such a location is sealed upon a death.
4) Calculate (do not just estimate) your net worth.
5) Change batteries in smoke detectors, and make a video inventory of all personal possessions. Store this at another location.
6) Add up all the bank fees you've paid in the past year. Reconsider your banking relationship. Join a credit union that offers a free checking account.
7) Open a special savings account, and make monthly deposits for your non-monthly bills (property taxes, insurance, auto maintenance and registration, etc.).
8) Ask your mortgage holder about canceling your private mortgage insurance. You may not even be aware that you are paying for this as part of your monthly payments. In most cases, PMI cannot be required once the borrower has accumulated 20 percent equity.
9) Cancel extended warranties on household appliances. If this makes you too nervous or insecure, self-insure by depositing the same monthly amounts that you've been paying for these overpriced insurance policies into your own savings account.
10) If you'll be getting a big tax return for 2010, file a new W-4 form with your employer to adjust the amount withheld for taxes. Why let the government use your money all year interest-free?