It's a new year, and that means it's resolution time. Maybe you want to lose weight, get a better job or find ways to be kinder to your community.
Well, I write about money. I wanted to know what some of the smartest money minds around are thinking about for 2011.
So I asked 10 smart money minds the following question: "What's your No. 1 personal money resolution?"
Here's what they had to say.
1. John Nelson, author of What Color Is Your Parachute? For Retirement
"My children are in the process of choosing college majors and degrees. So my resolution is to help them reconcile their lifestyle expectations with their chosen career paths and the resulting income level. The economic crisis has reminded us that peace of mind isn't so much about income. It's about matching our standard of living to our income. When we see our path in life more clearly, it's easier to stay on track with daily financial decisions. But when our expectations are out of whack, we get off track!''
2. Jeff Yeager, author of The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches and The Cheapskate Next Door
"We plan to upgrade our home's energy efficiency in 2011 -- in keeping with the idea that these days the easiest way to make a buck is to save a buck."
3. Brenda Buttner, Fox News Channel, Senior Business Correspondent and host of Bulls & Bears
"My resolution is to pay off my home equity loan," Buttner says. "Yes, it has a low interest rate, but I got it when home prices were appreciating, and I want as little debt as possible these days.''
4. J.D. Roth, author of Get Rich Slowly
"First, as a bit of background: I believe strongly that it's important for people to set only one major resolution per year, Any more than that, and it's too easy to lose your way, to become distracted, to lose focus. I do think it's okay to have some smaller resolutions (especially if they're in other domains -- for example, if your major resolution is financial, then it's okay to have a small fitness resolution), but to set more than one major resolution is a recipe for failure.
"That said, I have just one financial resolution for 2011. I want to track every penny I earn and spend. I did this for several years, and it helped me get out of debt. But once I was out of debt, I found it to be too much hassle. I stopped tracking my income and expenses last spring. Now I feel sort of lost. It's as if I'm driving without a compass. So in 2011, I plan to resume the habit of tracking my spending, and I intend to be diligent about recording the numbers. I think this will help me feel grounded once again, and may help some habits that are starting to go bad.''
5. Liz Weston, author of The 10 Commandments of Money and blogger, AskLizWeston.com. (I talked with her right before Christmas.)
"If you'd asked what my resolution is right now, it's to STOP SHOPPING. I've basically covered my gift list, but there are such nice bargains out there that it's so tempting to keep going...
"My resolution for 2011 is much more boring: It's to rebalance our investment portfolio once during the year, as I tell everyone else to do. I got so busy during the financial crisis and then writing my new book that I completely neglected our portfolio, so it sat there with a bunch of cash contributions I hadn't put to work as well as a woefully out-of-whack asset allocation. Classic case of the cobbler's children having no shoes.
"Recently I went back to our financial planner, begged her forgiveness and said I would actually implement her recommendations this time... which I did. It feels so good to have it done, and I'm determined not to neglect this chore again.''
6. Bill Griffeth, CNBC anchor
"My money resolution in the new year will be to help my kids take more responsibility for their own finances. My son is 21 and my daughter is 19. They are terrific about saving, and being college students they are frugal about spending. But now is the time for them to begin thinking longer-term, setting financial goals and developing plans to help them achieve those goals. It's never too early to begin.''
"2011 must be the 'Year of Financial Accountability.' I must stop looking at my credit as 'crime and punishment' and more like an asset. Each of us has a credit portfolio that must be built, nurtured, managed and protected. We are the professional managers of that portfolio, as no one else is in a better position to know what we do or has a greater stake in our financial security than we do.
"In the era of Elizabeth Warren, when the government is continuing its drive for greater simplicity, transparency and fairness in the marketplace, it is incumbent upon all of us to read notices, think clearly about our financial goals, monitor account activity, work hard to reduce debt and approach credit responsibly and with the respect it deserves.''
"Last year's resolution resulted from research for my book -- I convinced myself that my wife and I needed a fee-only financial planner to help us optimize our retirement plan. I fulfilled that resolution, which led to another important decision -- moving all my retirement assets into ultra-low-fee index funds and ETFs. That also is done.
"This year's resolution is to build an emergency reserve fund in very liquid assets that could cover living expenses in case of an unforeseen circumstance that disrupts income. Not sure I'll pull that one off, but shooting for it makes good sense to me."
9. Len Penzo, personal finance blogger, Len Penzo dot Com, which he calls the off-beat personal finance blog for responsible people
"My personal money resolution for 2011 is the same one I make every year: continue to spend less than I earn, after deducting for taxes, insurance and my retirement contributions. I know. It's kind of boring, but by faithfully sticking to that resolution, everything else tends to take care of itself!''
"Never believe government statistics. Sell gold; Buy silver!''
What's your money resolution for 2011? Please share your smart money plans in the comments section below.