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Find balance -- and go to Hawaii -- by being money-savvy

At this point in January, it’s easy to feel a nagging sense of resignation. It may seem as though the ship has sailed on New Year’s resolutions.But wait! The year is still so young! Think fast: What’s your biggest, most specific dream for 2011 -- a dream that will cost some money, that is? Pick one biggie, even if you think you can’t afford it. Then stop and think.“All of a sudden, when
Think you can't afford a trip to Hawaii this year? You might be wrong.
Think you can't afford a trip to Hawaii this year? You might be wrong.John Borthwick / Lonely Planet Images / Today

At this point in January, it’s easy to feel a nagging sense of resignation. It may seem as though the ship has sailed on New Year’s resolutions.

But wait! The year is still so young! Think fast: What’s your biggest, most specific dream for 2011 -- a dream that will cost some money, that is? Pick one biggie, even if you think you can’t afford it. Then stop and think.

“All of a sudden, when you’ve defined that goal, you’re that much more motivated to find areas where you can save,” said Melissa Tosetti, founder and president of The Savvy Life, formerly Budget Savvy Magazine.

Tosetti says thinking about what you really want and setting a significant goal puts a positive spin on the notion of budgeting. Rather than focusing on going without and making do with less -- (depressing!) -- the emphasis becomes, “Oh, awesome! I’m really going to be able to swing that trip to Hawaii!”

Such positive thinking about budgeting can be especially beneficial in this economy, when so many people are adapting to living with less.

“So maybe you don’t have as much money as you had two years ago,” she said. “But if you have a goal for what you want to do with the money that you do have, that’s so much better than bemoaning the fact that you don’t have as much as you once did.”

Tosetti says being money-savvy doesn’t mean you have to be a cheapskate, miser or tightwad. Instead, she says it’s about “finding, attaining and maintaining balance” -- spending less than you make and “being penny-wise on the things that are less important to you so you can spend money on the things that are important to you.”

“An example of that would be my husband and I,” Tosetti said. “Cars are not important to us at all whatsoever. They just get us from point A to point B. So we buy used and we try not to have car payments, and the money we save from that we try to put toward something we’re incredibly passionate about, which is travel.”

Do you have something you’re passionate about? It could be within reach much sooner than you think with some budgeting nips and tucks. Instead of buying lunch every day, could you brownbag it two days a week? Instead of going out to dinner twice a week, could you go just once a week for a few months?

If these ideas intrigue you, Tosetti has just released a book called “Living the Savvy Life.” It just might be the jump start you need to tackle an important money resolution in 2011.