Resolutions: Still time to get organized for 2012

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NEW YORK (AP) — With one month down in 2012, have you started on any of your New Year’s resolutions?

If not, it may be because you’re disorganized.

It’s all well and good to promise yourself you’ll make some changes, but putting a pledge into action requires mapping out the steps you need to take.

Fortunately, there’s hope. One of the best predictors of who will succeed at changing behavior or habits is an individual’s level of comfort in planning, said Ted Beck, President and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education. He suggested channeling the abilities you use for pulling together great vacations and successful projects at work. These skills can help you craft a strategy for reaching goals like building a better budget or ramping up your savings.

Here are some tips for getting started:

1. Rank your goals.

You’re not going to fix every problem at the same time, so pick one or two that are most important to start. There are 11 months left to 2012, so there’s plenty of time to work your way down the list as you rack up some successes.

2. Track your spending.

Whatever financial goals you have, knowing where your money goes is essential. Even if it’s just for a day or a week, make an effort to keep a log of what you’re spending. This exercise will help you identify potential problem areas and opportunities. Just trying to keep track, Beck noted, also tends to encourage spenders to modify their habits.

3. Clear the clutter.

You know that cascading pile of paper, unopened mail and outdated magazines makes it less appealing to get going. Set aside a day to file, shred and discard, and you’ll position yourself well for making progress on what’s really important to you.

For more help getting organized, seek out these resources:

READ: The blogs at OnlineOrganizing.com provide tips from professional organizers on pulling together your work life and your personal life. The site also offers free e-newsletter subscriptions.

DOWLOAD: Use one of the many apps for keeping track of your personal paperwork. Try the free Slice app designed to help you stay on top of online purchases and product shipments, www.goslice.com ; or Cozi Family Organizer, with which you can maintain a family calendar, shopping lists, to do lists and more on the go, www.cozi.com .

LISTEN: Benefit from the podcasts of the “Organize Anything” radio show featuring Canadian consultant Collette Robicheau, free on iTunes.