A shopper pays cash for sales merchandise December 26, 2000 at the Lakeline Mall in Austin, Texas. Stores were hoping that after Christmas shopping could salvage what seems to be a disappointing holiday season. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers) (Getty Images)

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How well did you handle your money in 2014? Were you living paycheck to paycheck? Falling behind in paying bills or paying them late?

If any or all of these behaviors fit you, than that indicates you need a better plan for handling money in the coming year.

Here are a few things you can modify to make sure you don’t run out of money before you run out of month.

Rethink Credit Cards

It’s really nice to buy things on sale and save money. But buying those things with credit cards are quickly destroying any saving by the high interest charged by many cards.

If you can pay your cards off in full each month then there is nothing wrong with using cards that pay you back for using them. Rethink how you are going to use cards in the coming year. Look for cards that have a better interest rate.

Late Payments Will Cost You

Paying bills late will not only damage your credit rating but can also increase your car and home insurance rates. I set up as many automatic payments as possible to make sure there are no late payments.

Even supplemental healthcare plans will give you a reduction for paying by automatic payments.

Handling Money Is A Family Affair

While I handle the money in our family my wife is not out of the loop. I print a budget each month that we review together to make sure that we both know that there are some months that are going to be lean and others that will be fat.

Sharing this information keeps the need for money discussions to a minimum and a much happier home life.

Setting a Budget

My stress level dropped about 99 percent when I created a budget for our family. It’s so much nicer to know that all the bills will be paid on time, and there is money budgeted for a movie or a nice dinner out now and then.

Every bill we can retire becomes a raise in what we can do with our time together.

Retiring Debt Is A Top Priority

It’s easy to get in over your head with credit cards. The impulse to buy stuff that you really don’t need can be very strong in some people.

I like to work on paying off the credit card with the smallest balance first. Put that card away somewhere and it’s not to be used except in extreme emergencies. Pay that one off then add that payment to the next payment for the next biggest card and so on. It works. Doing this consistently you can retire a lot of debt in a single year or less de

pending on your balances.

Some Final Thoughts

Money is a tool. You should put it to work for you. What if you could invest all your current credit card payments instead of paying that bill each month? Wouldn’t it be better if you earned the interest on your money rather than the credit card company? Something to think about.

Every dollar that earns more than a dollar in interest is like getting a raise in pay.

Your first New Year’s Resolution should be to retire debt, put that bill paying money toward something that makes you money instead of costing you money.

If you will live, for a short period of time, like most people won’t; you can live the rest of your life like most people can’t.

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