Financial Freedom in 2013

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shutterstock_90553060 “I’m going to stop smoking, I’m going to lose weight, and I’m most definitely not going to let the little things in life stress me out anymore.”

Any of that sound familiar? For many of us, those statements are New Year’s resolutions we will solemnly swear to uphold come January 1, 2013. For others, they may sound more like déjà vu, and an unfulfilled promise we made to ourselves last year.

The truth is out of the 45% of Americans, who usually make New Year’s resolutions; only 8% of people will actually be successful in achieving them, according to a study by the University of Scranton.

Whether it’s in reference to your wallet or physique, resolutions are all about self-improvement, making things better, and starting the New Year out on a clean slate. After combing through dozens of studies and statistics, I found one of the most commonly listed resolutions was to get out of debt. However, it’s also one of the most commonly broken.

One of the items I came across in my search for information was a Wall Street Journal blog post by Psychologist and PsyBlog creator, Jeremy Dean. In it, he talks about why New Year’s resolutions fail, and points out that breaking old habits is painstakingly hard (if you’ve tackled resolutions before, you know how true that statement is). He suggests for big changes, think small.

For example, you know darn well your spending habits are atrocious. You use your credit card for everything. You never ever keep track of how much you spend. Your wants overcome your needs. You have no idea where your money goes each month, and the only thing left in your pocket at the end of the day is fuzzballs and lint.

I suggest your first step to managing your debt and finances is to check your credit report. It’s in that handy dandy piece of information that you will find your accounts, inquiries, and public record/collection items (basically your entire credit history).

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) suggests only one in five consumers check their credit report every year. You can find your free credit report and score at No games, no gimmicks, no garbage. The New York Times suggests 26 million people obtain their credit report through a variety of credit monitoring services (like Quizzle) each year.

If the thought of 2013 and the hope of a new beginning isn’t enough to get you motivated to check your credit report, a scenario reported by the Sacramento Bee earlier this month may be the go-go juice you need to get things moving.

[Free Resource: Check your free credit report and score]

Here’s the scoop:

A California woman pulled her credit report and found a nearly $17,000 credit error she had no idea even existed. It reportedly listed a 2007 court judgment for money she supposedly owed on a Chase card, but the problem is she never even owned a Chase card.

She told the Bee that the mistake created all sorts of financial chaos for her and she was even denied credit cards because of it. Thankfully, the media was able to step in and help get her the help she so desperately needed. The issue has since been resolved and the judgment has reportedly been removed from her credit report.

You never know what kind of false information, if any, is lurking behind the scenes on your credit report. Even if your resolution doesn’t include managing your money, do yourself a financial favor and check your credit report today.


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Krystal lives, works, and plays in the Detroit area and loves covering a variety of personal finance topics for the Quizzle Wire.