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Love and Debt: Why you need to talk about money

Valentine's Day On A Budget

What Will You do With Your Tax Cut?

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Setting Financial Goals for the Year Ahead

Financing last-minute Christmas gifts

Your Credit and the Holidays

Where to go for mortgage and debt help

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

Back-to-School Strategies for Staying Out of Debt

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

Tax filing options to consider

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a budget

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Strategies for Financially Surviving the Holidays

Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

Tax Refund Delays for some in 2017

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

Making the holidays memorable for families on a tight budget.

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

Should Consumers Use the New EMV Cards?

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

Q. My wife and I always resolve to manage our money better in the New Year.  The problem is something goes wrong or breaks down, and we up give up on our resolution after a few months.  How can we make resolutions we can keep?

A. The news is full of articles touting what you should do to improve your finances in 2017. I’m not fond of “need to” or “should do” when it comes to managing your finances. Rather, I believe in keeping things simple and working toward what you want.

What’s more, I prefer the word goals over resolutions.  Goals are personal and give you direction; they can change over time as your priorities change.  Goals are based on what you want to accomplish, not what you think you should do. Very few people succeed with “should dos.” 

To set goals, here’s how to get started.  Get a piece of paper and three index cards and call a family meeting.  Couples should make joint goals, and a family should gather input from everyone old enough to contribute their ideas.   

Now the hard part – make a list of what you want.  This is as hard as it gets.  Sometimes it really is difficult to determine what you want.  Write down everything that everyone suggests.  The only rule is you have to be specific.  For example, financial stability is not a specific goal, but buying a new car is.  

You mentioned that something always goes wrong and upsets your financial plans, so maybe your first goal should be to build an emergency account of $500 or $1,000. Or perhaps you want to contribute to your retirement fund at work.  Maybe you want new tires?  A family trip?  Perhaps you want to do some home repairs or buy a home.  Maybe you want to improve your credit score?  For this exercise, time is irrelevant.  List everything on the paper.    

Now it’s time to narrow down the goals that you truly want your family to accomplish. Transfer this list to your index cards.  All three index cards should have the same items on them in the same order.  At the top of the card write 2017.  You now have your goal card. 

Keep one card for yourself, give one to your significant other, and leave one where you will see it often; the refrigerator or the computer are both good options. Keep your own card in your wallet or checkbook – wherever you will see it when you spend money.

Your mind now knows what it wants and will set out to accomplish it.  You will have set backs; we all do. But keep your goal card with you, and it will help you get back on track to what you want.  When you get your tax return or come into extra money, you will have a plan for it because you have goals you want to reach. On the other hand, when you get an urge to buy what your co-worker or friend has, you will be able to refocus on what you want – not what someone else has.

It truly is as simple as writing down what you want on an index card and keeping it with you. Try it and you will be amazed by how much you have accomplished by the end of 2017. I’d love to hear your goals and about your progress in the year to come.   

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.