The start of the New Year is an excellent time to streamline budgets and tweak spending
habits. It’s an ideal time to stock up on much needed items by taking advantage of after-holiday
sales. Retailers drastically slash prices on the previous year’s items (sometimes beyond 50%)-
-all to make way for the latest products. As a savvy consumer, create a list of items that your
household is missing and have a jolly time shopping for rock bottom bargains when most other
consumers are sitting by the fireplace indulging their holiday gifts. 

Also, use the first of the year as a benchmark and go through all of your bills with a fine tooth
comb (i.e.,credit cards, mortgage, auto/ home insurance) and see if your interest rates can be
lowered. Insurance companies are very competitive and eager to offer monthly fees that are
lower than what you currently pay to get your business. Also, do your homework and shop
around for the very best credit card rates. Credit unions rise to the top of the list of banks that
offer the most competitive rates for mortgages and credit cards. If you currently are not a
member of a credit union, find an employer or a community-based credit union that you can join.
The financial benefits are tremendous.

2011 is also a great time to change your mindset about overall spending. When the ball drops
for the New Year, promise yourself that you’ll focus on buying items that you need as opposed to
things that you really don’t need but simply want. This approach can save you hundreds or even
thousands of dollars a month. From dining out, to clothing and household items, try to routinely
purchase items that are on sale as opposed to full priced. This approach will make you a smart
consumer who really knows how to shop for items without sacrificing quality.