Contributed by Katie K.

Last year I made the resolution to stop charging on my credit cards. While I was making a good living, I had racked up a lot of debt because I was spending above my means.  There were several things I could point to that contributed to my situation.

Overspending on food. I had taken eating out to a whole new level. In addition to spending an average $15 a day on lunch, I went out a lot with co-workers and friends to the tune of approximately $150 a week.

Impulse shopping. I prided myself on dressing well and, while I often purchased from sales racks, I would end up getting more than I needed. How did I know that? In my closet there were still several items of clothing with the tags on so obviously I didn’t need them.

Once I had identified these two areas, I went over my finances and decided to make changes.  Specifically, I put my credit cards away, started doing more cash transactions and opened a savings account. Then, I changed my eating out habits. Each week I prepared two types of meals: one for lunch and one for dinner. I cut back my eating out with friends to one day a week and began inviting friends over to my home for drinks which decreased the cost of socializing dramatically. Plus, I was adding to my savings account on a regular basis.

It was not always easy to keep to my new program and, whenever I fell into my old habits, I reminded myself of my plan and got back on track. By preparing food ahead of time, entertaining at home and cutting down my clothes shopping, I had changed my spending habits and, as of last week, I had over $3,000 in my savings account.

What financial changes did you make last year? We invite you to write your comments in the box below.