NEW YORK - Let's face it, we're weak.
It's tough to make meaningful New Year's resolutions - and eventougher to keep them. So The Associated Press asked more than ahalf dozen consumer experts to make some resolutions for us.Consumers might use them to start on the path to a prosperous andthrifty new year.
- From Durant Abernethy, president of the National Foundation forConsumer Counseling (800 388-2227, www.nfcc.org):
Let's do a better job of budgeting for unexpected expenses thatcan wind up on interest-charging credit cards. If you don't have anemergency savings account, you are going to have to borrow moneyevery time your car breaks down, a major appliance gives out or theroof leaks. Unfortunately, that is what a lot of Americans do.
The solution is to build a "rainy day" savings account, and it'seasier than you think. Deposit $20 a week in a savings account thatearns 5 percent interest, and you will have $13,700 in 10 years and$131,900 in 40.
- From Greg McBride, financial analyst at Bankrate Inc.(www.bankrate.com):
Strive to accumulate an emergency savings fund that would coverliving expenses of three to six months. It's a good idea to keep theequivalent of three months expenses in a high-yielding money marketaccount, and any more in a three-month certificate of deposit.
- From Kelly Presta, vice president at Visa U.S.A.:
The new year inspires people to make changes, often improvements,in life. Money management is always a popular choice. A Web sitefrom Visa can help make heads and tails of financial matters -www.PracticalMoneySkills.com. The site's free games, onlinecalculators and curriculum will help anyone get a better handle ontheir finances.
- From Gordon Stewart, president of the Insurance InformationInstitute (www. iii.org):
This year, I will review my insurance to make sure it has kept upwith my life. I will tell my insurance professional about theimprovements to my home. I will finally do an inventory of myworldly possessions. I will read my policies. This year, I will doit. I really will!
- From Laurence Foster, chairman of the personal financialspecialist committee of the American Institute of Certified PublicAccountants:
It's time for me to do the planning that will affect the rest ofmy life. ... I resolve to do my retirement and estate planning. Thatmeans preparing a will and figuring out who'll best care for my kids- including financially - making sure my family has the financialprotection they'll need through life insurance, and making sure thatthe government doesn't get all my money!
- From Ed Slott, editor of Ed Slott's IRA Advisor in RockvilleCentre, N.Y.:
This year, I will obtain a copy of the Individual RetirementAccount beneficiary form for each IRA I own. I will make sure that Ihave named a primary beneficiary and a secondary (contingent)beneficiary for each one. I will make sure that the financialinstitution has my beneficiary selections on file and that itsrecords agree with my choices. I will keep a copy of all my IRAbeneficiary forms, and I will let my beneficiaries know where tolocate the forms. I'll review them at least once a year.
- From Rhoda Karpatkin, president of the Consumers Union, whichpublishes Consumer Reports magazine (www.consumer.org):
Find new ways to enjoy life without buying more stuff. Check outhow much pleasure you can get from helping to make your community abetter place.