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3 saving goals, and 9 ways to make them happen

For many, keeping a resolution is easier said than done. But sticking to certain patterns can produce success, money experts say.

GOAL 1: Eliminate credit card debt and / or stop using credit cards
How to make it happen

Pay off. Send as much as possible each month to the card with the highest interest rate, as you make minimum payments on others. When the high one is paid off, elevate the next-highest-rate card to extra-payment status.

Get support. Find a money buddy to call when you're tempted to charge.

Stash the cards. Cut the cards up or store them in an ice container in the freezer. However, don't close the accounts, which would negatively affect your credit score.

GOAL 2: Cut monthly spending and / or save more
How to make it happen

Make a list, keep a diary. Become aware of how much you're spending and on what. Keep a daily money diary where you record each purchase.

Tally expenses. Determine your fixed and estimated expenses, including special events like birthdays. Then give yourself a weekly allowance and stick to it, with income beyond that going into savings or to pay down credit card debt.

Make saving automatic. Set up recurring transfers of a specific amount into a savings account each pay period.

Create petty cash stash. Find small, routine ways to stash money away by plopping all your change in a piggy bank, including smaller bills, such as singles and $5 bills.

GOAL 3: Contribute more to 401(k)
How to make it happen.

Just do it. Automate regular contributions from your paycheck.

Allocate future raises. If your plan allows, allocate a percentage of future pay raises to be swept automatically into your 401(k).

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