Six For Success

Did you forget to make new year’s resolutions? It’s not too late. These half-dozen tips will pay off whether the long-awaited economic rebound gets delivered in 2003 or is left waiting at the docks.

1. KEEP A STRONG CASH RESERVE. Save money each month to cover major maintenance, tires and other big-ticket expenses. If you’re running low on self-discipline, set up an automatic draft from your checking account into a savings account, money market account or conservative mutual fund. Once you start borrowing to meet inevitable “emergencies,” it’s hard to climb out of the downward spiral of debt.

2. AVOID CREDIT CARDS. Unless you are strong enough to pay off credit card balances in full every month, avoid using them except for true emergencies or high-dollar bills. Relying on cash is a great way to help you decide whether you can really afford that new antenna or chrome accessory.

3. KEEP PERSONAL FINANCES DISTINCT. That means separate checking and credit card accounts. Not only does this help you rein in discretionary spending, but it provides more clear-cut records for tax purposes. If you get advances, use them strictly for business purposes.

4. KEEP TRACK OF RECEIPTS. Organize them by trip, by month or by any other system you and your accountant work out. Keep a notebook to write down small expenses, such as coin-operated laundry machines, that have no receipt.

5. LOG MILES IN YOUR PERSONAL VEHICLE. Trips to buy office supplies or truck parts, or to do truck-related bank business, are tax-deductible. Keep a notepad in the vehicle and record mileage, date and purpose of trip.

6. DO TRIP PAPERWORK QUICKLY. Money now is worth more than money later. For example, if you keep a credit card balance from month to month, you’re constantly racking up interest charges. The quicker you receive income, the more opportunity you have to reduce your average daily credit card balance, thereby cutting interest expenses.

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