MADELEINE BRAND, Host:
From NPR News, this is Day to Day. You know, this last year was pretty bad financially. So, what will 2009 bring and most importantly, what can you do to improve your own finances for this next year? Here with financial New Year's resolutions is our personal finance guru, Michelle Singletary. Hi, Michelle.
MICHELLE SINGLETARY: Hi. Happy New Year.
BRAND: Well, thank you. So, what are some lessons we've all learned from this year, lessons that perhaps don't involve asking for a bailout?
SINGLETARY: And devotion to debt is dumb. I've talked about this on this program I don't how many times, and yet, the lesson didn't sink in that you have to have an aversion to debt. You are in bondage when you have debt. And if nothing else, at least this recession has reminded people of those two principles.
BRAND: OK. So how would you implement your advice? Coming into this next year, what are some financial resolutions that people should adopt?
SINGLETARY: And lastly, commit to spending one month, not spending any money except to purchase necessities. So for the month of January, from the time you hear this, decide that for 30 days, I am only going to spend money on necessities, you know, food, medicine, things like that, nothing else. And you're going to put away that credit even if you're good with your money, and watch what you'll see. You'll see that you spend more than you think.
BRAND: And hopefully save more than you think.
SINGLETARY: Absolutely. You know, I try this exercise, you know, a couple times a year, and even I'm surprised, and everybody knows how frugal I am.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
SINGLETARY: And during that month, keep a spending journal. You know, write down how much you spend on different things. Now, a lot of people are thinking, I know this. It's simple. But I tell you, if more people had listened to some of these things that I'm saying, we would not be as bad off as we are.
BRAND: Michelle Singletary, Day to Day's personal finance contributor. She writes the nationally syndicated column, The Color of Money. Michelle, thank you.
SINGLETARY: You're welcome.
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