This is a guest post from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), a non-profit dedicated to improving the financial literacy of all Americans.
Control spending: If you spend less you'll have more money available to pay down debt and save for the future. Write down your expenses for a month to see where your money is going. You might be surprised by how easy it is to find places to scale back.
Create a debt repayment plan: If you carry credit card debt, write down everything you owe and make a plan to pay it off. Start with small items you can act on right away–it will make tackling the bigger debt easier. Also, try buying with cash only. It’s a sure-fire way to prevent increases in your credit card debt.
Set up auto-savings plans: Arrange with your bank or another financial institution to have a set amount deducted from your checking account to a savings account each pay period. Of the Americans who have been able to contribute to emergency savings funds, automatic withdrawal is the most popular method, according to the Consumer Federation of America.
Boost retirement savings: If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, increase your contributions. If you don't have an employer plan, open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and arrange for contributions to be made automatically from your checking or savings account.
Create a long-term plan: Write a list of your long-term goals, such as buying a home or saving for college or retirement. Visit the Life Events section of Smart About Money for concrete tips on accomplishing those goals.
Protect Yourself: Be prepared for the unexpected by making sure you, your family, your assets and investments are insured and fully covered. If you do not have a will, make 2010 the year you establish a life plan.
Find a financial buddy: Share your financial resolutions with a friend, colleague, or family member, and you’ll be more likely to keep them. Find someone else who wants to turn around their debt or cut their spending, and establish a mutual support system.
NEFE operates the site Smart About Money and have developed a series of articles filled with tips to help you make 2010 the year of financial freedom. You can also find Economic Survival Tips, worksheets and articles focused on financial education related to housing, spending, credit and job change. Follow NEFE on Twitter at @nefe_org.