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Four People. One Year. A Lot Less Debt.

Tania and Carl Chandler with their children, Sydney, 3, and Myles, 6. (By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)
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Sunday, December 23, 2007; Page F01

As 2007 comes to a close, many people will resolve to get their lives straight in 2008.

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They will promise to lose weight.

They will swear to spend more time with their families.

They will promise that this is the year they will get out of debt, save more and spend less.

Among adults who make New Year's resolutions, more than half (58 percent) make some sort of finance-related pledge, according to a new survey conducted by Harris Interactive for TD Ameritrade.

Saving more money is the most popular financial promise (69 percent), followed by paying off debt (57 percent) and reducing spending (46 percent).

It won't surprise anyone that the study also found that 51 percent of all money resolutions are abandoned within a month.

Why such a high failure rate?

Well, it's not always about the money. People lack discipline. They have a sense that they deserve to get new things. They also don't have someone to hold them accountable.

Last year about this time, I wanted to see if I could help four people -- two single women and one couple -- accomplish their New Year's resolutions to save more money and get out of credit card debt.

I'm happy to report that the Color of Money Challengers -- Carl and Tania Chandler, Carlesa A. Washington, and Annie Schleicher -- are heading into the 2008 with considerably less debt then they had at the beginning of the year.

Washington, 24, started the year off with $6,402 in debt. All her consumer credit accounts were in collection. The single D.C. resident had no budget. Because she lived at home and didn't pay rent, she spent recklessly.


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