money management and your household budgetIf you’re like most people, there’s a good chance that you are planning to improve your finances and money management skills this year. The goals you set at the start of the year can make a big difference in your financial situation—now and well into the future.

As you consider what you would like your money to accomplish this year, here are five financial resolutions to make that can help you make a little room in your household budget:

1. Prioritize your spending. Too often, we spend money without really thinking about whether or not an expenditure is important. This leads to a great deal of waste. Instead, first determine what the most important items in your household budget are and then prioritize your spending so those things are covered.

To do this, go through your common expenses and rank them. This exercise will encourage you to spend consciously, it will give you a better grasp on your financial situation, and it will make it easier to identify which items to cut from your budget.

2. Invest more money. Evaluate how much of your money you are investing. Chances are, it isn’t enough. Look for a little extra room in your budget—your priorities list can help—and invest some of that money rather than spend it. Thanks to the power of compounding interest, even increasing your monthly investment to $50 can make a difference in the long run.

3. Monitor your credit. When was the last time you reviewed your credit report? Monitoring your credit report and credit score can provide you with a benchmark for your financial progress, and it can also help you identify threats to your identity. Your credit report is one of the first places that fraudulent activity will appear.

You can get one free credit report each year from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies through annualcreditreport.com. If you’d prefer to monitor your credit more regularly, you may want to consider purchasing a credit monitoring product.

4. Start a side gig. One of the best ways to improve your income security is to make money on the side, without relying on your main job for all of your pay. A little extra income can go a long way toward helping you reach your financial goals.

You don’t need to start a huge business for this to work. Look for something small you can do on the side, such as freelancing, consulting, taking on odd jobs, or even starting a Web site.

5. Improve your own skills. Invest in yourself. Improving your own skills can be a great way to boost your ability to make money in the future.

Figure out what is likely to help you advance in your career or help you improve your business. From learning about investing to developing your presentation skills to earning a special certification, there are ways for you to improve yourself so that you are more valuable to your employer and the job market in general.

What are your financial resolutions for the new year?

Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in personal finance, family finance and business topics. She writes for several online and offline publications. Miranda is the author of Confessions of a Professional Blogger: How I Make Money as an Online Writer and the writer behind PlantingMoneySeeds.com.