Resolve to Get Out of Debt (for Real!) in the New Year

Financial expert Andrés Gutiérrez gives you tips for sticking to financial resolutions and making 2013 a debt-free year.

Resolve to get out of debt in the New YearResolve to get out of debt in the New YearMost New Year resolutions, like vowing to lose weight or quit smoking, are usually made with great intentions only to be forgotten by the end of January. "Most people's resolutions are dreams instead of goals; goals come with a plan," says financial expert Andrés Gutiérrez, who defines goals as "dreams dressed in work clothes."

So, what does a well-devised financial goal look like? Gutiérrez suggests following some basic measurable guidelines: time-limited, specific, written and measurable. Just saying "I'm going to get out of debt", and leaving it at that does not translate into a successful plan. For example, an individual with $12,000 in debt could manage a goal as follows:

Time-limit: "I'll get out of debt by January 2014" is well limited goal, but, is it realistic? Does it take your current budget into consideration? Maybe taking two years to pay off $500 a month is a better plan than paying $1,000 each month.

Get rid of debt with Andres's 2-step plan

Specific: Define your goal even further by deciding how the debt will be paid. Some examples include setting a separate fund and designating part of your paycheck towards it, selling high-price items (like a car or a piece of jewelry), or planning several yard sales during the year..

Written: "When you write down [your goals], your emotional side gets overshadowed by your rational side," says Gutiérrez, who recommends couples write down their debt-reduction goals, as well as their budgets. It's an activity many couples (especially Latinos) seem to skip.

Measurable: Some may need to give themselves a quick goal-check every quarter or mid-year to make sure they stay on track.

Keeping them accountable
When it comes to a goal's success, accountability is the name of the game, according to Gutiérrez. Couples need to come to the table and stay until they agree on common goals, as well as have a budget set up. Goals, and the budget to support them, should be written down in detail with plans to sit down regularly to measure their progress.

As far as singles are concerned, many tend to live without much financial accountability, usually with an attitude of "I can spend anything, anytime I want"--a mentality that can hinder their financial success. "Singles need to get rid of their spoiled brat mentality and become adults," says Gutiérrez, who advises debt-ridden singles to stay accountable to someone they respect to help them see their financial goals through. "Be accountable to someone that loves you enough to tell you the truth when you need it. And, before making big financial decisions, consult someone you respect. Whether a friend or family member, every single person should have a dependable numbers 'nerd' in his/her life."

Financial expert Andrés Gutiérrez is the host of "The Andrés Gutiérrez Show" and creator of Paz Financiera. A successful entrepreneur and small-business owner, Andrés Gutiérrez knows what it's like to start with nothing and build lasting wealth. After hosting a San Antonio financial radio program and appearing frequently as a financial expert on the Telemundo television network, Andres joined Dave Ramsey's team in 2009 to bring the message of Financial Peace to the Spanish-speaking community.

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