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Bankrate's 2008 Financial Forecast
Knowing what's coming is good. Knowing what to do about it makes it even better.
A 12-step program
   Select a step:
12-step program to fiscal health

A new year sparks all kinds of resolutions, so it's the perfect time to start showing some fiscal responsibility and getting your finances in shape.

Just like shaping up your body, financial fitness takes some planning and discipline; and it doesn't happen overnight. But if you tackle your finances one step at a time, it won't hurt -- at least not that much.

Lose weight: Increasing your physical fitness is tough when you're carrying around those extra pounds. You can't touch your toes, running hurts your knees and you may not see past your stomach to read your weight on the scale.

Fiscal fitness is no different. When you're up to your ears in debt, it's tough to exercise other parts of your financial life. So, your first target is getting rid of your borrowing baggage.

Develop your core: You need a strong core to make your stomach look like a six-pack (instead of looking like you drank a six-pack). That core strength also gives you the stability you need to strengthen everything else. Your core for fiscal fitness is knowing what you want, saving money to get it and then protecting what you have.

Build some muscle: Getting out of debt and starting to save money is just a warm up. Now it's time to beef up your finances. Saving for your retirement or a down payment on a house takes some work. The good news is that time works in your favor -- you can invest your money and let it grow.

With your newfound strength and discipline, you're also ready to use debt to your advantage. Unlike credit card debt, which just weighs you down, borrowing money to buy a house empowers you. A good credit score is the key to getting a good interest rate on a mortgage, so you'll want to build that up, too.

Body Building: Body building a la Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't for everybody, but no one would complain about finances that look like Mr. or Ms. Olympia. After you get your finances in tip-top shape, you may want to shoot for a gold medal.

So, launch the new year with our 12-step plan to get your finances in peak shape. By the end of the year, you can show off your new fitter bottom line.

Select a program step :
-- Posted: Dec. 10, 2007
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