BBB offers tips for the new year

’Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions, and according to a recent survey from Fidelity Investments, about 54 percent of Americans — up from 35 percent in 2013 — will be considering financial resolutions for 2014.

The top three financial resolutions include saving more, spending less and reducing debt.

Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington wishes consumers success in reaching their financial goals:

n Cut back. Track down and eliminate poor spending habits. Record daily expenditures on meals, snacks, ATM fees, gourmet coffees and other seemingly insignificant cash outflows. Inexpensive purchases can add up over the year.

n Increase insurance deductibles. Research costs and benefits for different insurance products and services and understand how they can affect prices. Raising auto insurance deductibles can lower premiums by 15 percent or more.

n Pump up emergency funds. Establish savings goals and create plans for attaining them. Include money to help cover extra expenses should there be accidents or home emergencies.

n Refinance mortgages. Compare rates to find the most competitive terms. Remember, good credit scores might lower monthly payments by hundreds of dollars, but closing costs can be expensive, so make sure that the savings will exceed those costs.

n Re-adjust taxes. Check the Internal Revenue Service’s IRS Withholding Calculator to avoid incorrect federal income tax withholdings. Consider filing the new IRS Form W-4 with employers to get more money every month instead of sizeable refunds once a year.

n Review cellphone, cable and Internet plans. Check with service providers about special offers or promotions that could reduce monthly bills. Cancel services that are not used.

BBB recommends paying down balances with higher interest rates first, building an emergency fund to cover at least three months of living expenses and regularly contributing to retirement savings like 401(k) plans or IRAs.

Visit for more help on achieving financial resolutions.

Contract Publishing

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