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Tips on setting financial goals for the new year

Looking to save money in the new year? Start by scrutinizing your spending habits. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/sutteerug)

WASHINGTON — A lot of people will start the year with the goal of spending less and saving more, and taking the right steps from the beginning could make or break your plan to better your financial future.

Financial expert Harrine Freeman believes you should start by examining what you are spending on.

“Assess where you are, create a budget to track your spending and see if there are any areas where you can reduce spending,” Freeman said.

The first thing to examine is how much money you spend eating out at restaurants for lunch or dinner. Freeman said cutting the frequency that you dine out can save a person a substantial amount each month.

Another place to look when trying to save is at a cable or phone bill, Freeman says.

“Ask about discounts or specials or do comparisons with other companies to see if you can find a cheaper plan.”

Look for any services you pay for each month that you don’t necessarily need. Freeman said many people don’t realize that they are paying bank fees for services other banks offer for free.

“These are things that you can really cut back and cancel and reduce to increase cash flow, which frees up money to pay down debt, [or] contribute to your savings or retirement accounts,” Freeman said.

Freeman also urges savers to look at mortgages and car loans. In some cases, refinancing could save a person hundreds of dollars.

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