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Would you be surprised to learn that the number one New Year's resolution is to lose weight? Probably not.

Staying fit definitely belongs high on the list of personal priorities. But in the quest to shed those unwanted pounds, we often overlook other important factors that are essential to our wellbeing. Yes, we all want to look good, and we care about how others perceive us. But we shouldn't let weight and body image issues get in the way of more important resolutions.

Therefore, I propose that we make 2007 the year to focus on what's really important. Financial freedom should top the list, since it allows us more time to concentrate on our vanity. With that in mind, here are my top priorities, which I make a point to review on an annual basis:      

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1. Life insurance. If you purchased a policy 10 years ago, it's time to upgrade. Otherwise, the death benefit may not be sufficient to cover expenses and still leave enough for your loved ones if you should pass away.

2. Estate planning. Amidst the hustle and bustle of daily activities, many people decide that estate planning can wait just a little longer. Others can't bring themselves to address that fact that they will not live forever, and simply refuse to complete this essential task. Ladies, let me assure you that you will feel much more confident and less concerned for your loved ones once this chore is out of the way.

3. Saving money. No one likes to feel constrained by a budget. However, most of us need one to manage our money properly. Sit down and figure out all your expenses, then set a goal of saving 10 percent of your income. As you successfully figure out how to do this, increase the percentage every six months.

4. Building wealth. Now that you are saving money, you need to figure out what to do with it. (Shopping is not an option!) Here's where a good financial planner can help. Ask your friends and relatives who they would recommend. Get several names. and interview at least three before making your final choice.

5.Retirement. Watch your pension, 410K and IRA plans like a hawk! Otherwise, the money may not grow at the right speed. Start by having your financial planner explain your investment. Then review the investment with your planner every six months, and keep an eye on it quarterly. You don't have to be a financial genius to understand your investment. But you must pay attention to your money if you want it to work for you.

6.Education. Evaluate your job to determine what you can do to educate yourself and move forward in your career. Knowledge is power, and persistence is the key.

7.Reduce stress. Find out what makes you happy and calm. A yoga class? An evening with friends? A jog in the park or a walk with a dog? Reducing stress doesn't have to be stressful. Identify what works for you and make it part of your daily routine.

8.Taking a trip. Start planning ahead of time. Choosing a destination and booking far in advance can save you hundreds of dollars and give you something to look forward to.

9.Stop the habit. If you're still puffing on that cigarette, the time has come to give it up. Yes, it's a lot easier said than done, but support groups, nicotine patches and other tools can help you pull through. If I can do it, anyone can do it!

10.Volunteering. Find out how you can make a difference in someone's life, and take your children along on the ride. Let's teach our kids that volunteers make the world a better place.

These 10 tips can serve as an outline for your New Years resolutions. Once you've settled on your top priorities, write down your goals, review them on a daily basis, and take appropriate action. This will greatly improve your chances of achieving your goals.

May all of your goals and dreams come true in 2007!

Cheers, Yana



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