Money Resolutions for 2015: How Folks Plan to Improve Their Finances in the New Year

Originally published on TheStreet, January 1, 2015.

Be honest: Did you handle your money wisely in 2014? For many of us the answer is mixed. I was personally able to increase my income and watch my investments grow, but I definitely spent too much on clothing, eating out and manicures instead of socking away more cash for my future. With the new year kicking off this week, it's a great time to reflect on the successes and failures of the past year and ponder ways to improve our finances in 2015.

If creating financial goals isn't exactly your forte, you can start the process by imagining how you would like your future to look.

"Your vision of the future affects the decisions you make in the present," says Greg Smith, a certified financial planner and managing director with The Wise Investor Group at Robert W. Baird & Co. in Reston, Va. Once you picture your future, you can then create a plan to achieve that vision. "Know where you truly stand financially and what needs to happen to get you to your goals," says Smith.

To gain some inspiration on smart ways to improve your finances in 2015, MainStreet spoke with Americans from around the country to find out their top money-related New Year's resolutions. Here's what they had to say.

Name: Iya Davidson

Occupation: PR agency director

Residence: New York City

"I spend a lot of money on clothes. I buy stuff almost every week and sometimes every day. I am not in debt but feel like I could be making wiser investments with my money especially considering that I am 43 and should be getting more aggressive with retirement preparation.

"I resolve to solve my spending habit by limiting my discretionary shopping budget to a certain amount. I plan to set a specific and finite monthly budget for clothing, shoes, makeup and accessories. If I exceed it, I will borrow against next month's. If I come in under it, the excess will go to savings."

Name: Sam Seiden

Occupation: Chief education officer for Online Trading Academy

Residence: Irvine, Calif.

"I plan to not let my emotions dictate my trading strategy or alter my investment plans. Trade what is real, not what you feel. Banks are consistently profitable, because they buy when prices are down and at demand and sell when prices are high at supply. Average traders and investors take the opposite action because they make decisions based on emotion. How you make money buying and selling anything in life is exactly how you make money buying and selling in the financial markets, but most traders and investors never realize this."

Name: Jennifer Maguire

Occupation: President of JMCPR

Residence: New York City

"My number-one financial resolution is for my business, but affects my personal bottom line tremendously. In 2015, I resolve to pay more attention to the finances of my business, specifically by billing my clients on time. As the president of a small PR firm, I get so caught up servicing my clients that billing falls by the wayside. I'm resolving to fix that issue in 2015 and already have a plan in place—my business has grown enough to hire an outside consultant to assist with client billing."

Name: Stefanie O'Connell

Occupation: Actress and founder of The Broke and Beautiful Life

Residence: New York City

"My top resolution for 2015 is to triple my income. As a professional theater actress, my earnings have always been uncertain and limited. While I've learned to maximize each and every dollar to live richly within the parameters of that limited budget, I've also found that savings themselves have limitations. At some point, you run out of ways to cut back. My focus going forward is to take steps toward the other side of the equation—higher earnings. Where savings are limited, earnings can grow exponentially. Through starting my own business, publishing my first book and freelance writing, I'm excited to explore the potential of a higher income future."

Name: Cynthia Kersey

Occupation: Founder and CEO of The Unstoppable Foundation

Residence: Los Angeles

"My top financial resolution for 2015 is to give more. Giving is the most self-generative, self-loving and self-supporting thing we can do for ourselves and for our organizations. I plan to give more to things that inspire me—people who have a need and causes that I care about. I have also resolved to expand the work of the nonprofit organization I founded, the Unstoppable Foundation, whose mission is to ensure that every child receives access to an education."

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