It’s that time of year – the time to ditch bad habits and replace them with good ones. Time to make sensible resolutions, particularly when it comes to your money and investments. Last year we found a really good check list on the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission’s website that would be helpful to anyone who wants to get 2012 off to a sound savings start. Here are the top five suggestions. One or more may suit your situation:

  1. Save and invest. Don’t underestimate your ability to save and invest. With compound interest, even modest investments can grow over time.
  2. Lighten your credit load. Paying off high-interest debt may be your best investment strategy. Few investments pay off as well, or with less risk, than eliminating high-interest debt on credit cards or other loans.
  3. Boost your “rainy-day” fund. Many experts recommend keeping about six months worth of expenses in a federally insured account to cover sudden unemployment or other emergencies.
  4. “Sure thing” is fine as an expression but not as an investment pitch. Promises of guaranteed high returns, with little or no risk, are classic warning signs of fraud. The potential for greater returns typically comes with greater risk. You know the saying—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  5. Take charge of your money. If you don’t know where it goes, start keeping track. There are plenty of tools to help you set a monthly budget and stick to it.

Read the full checklist at