IF 2009 was hard on your finances, the best resolution you can take for the new year is to save.

Liberty Life's consumer economist Tendani Mantshimuli outlined to Sowetan some tips for 2010.

"The first step in your new year financial plan is to put together a budget to help you manage your money," Mantshimuli said.

l Face up to your financial situation and make 2010 the year you start getting rid of debt by reading your bank statement and evaluate all stop orders.

l If you feel that you are so in debt and there is no way out, consider debt counselling.

l There is no immediate solution to paying off your debt. It will take you time and discipline.

l Use your credit card cautiously. Pay off the liability first and join the cash economy. Do not take your credit card into your temptation spots like clothing stores. If you do, you are more likely to buy impulsively, things you do not need.

l Never spend before you earn, even if you think the money is coming, don't spend it until it hits your bank account.

l Be careful of sales. You may find yourself buying things you did not need because you are lured by the price tag.

l Shop around for the best deals and do not buy the first thing you see.

l The golden rule is that do not spend money when you are unhappy or to make yourself feel better. Retail therapy, although fun at the time, can leave you with a huge amount of guilt and debt.

l Save. This is one of the best habits you can adopt in 2010. Aim to save around 15percent of your salary every month.

The saving process can be divided into short-term items such as a new outfit, a holiday or new furniture.

Medium-term savings would include a deposit on a new home, home renovation, a wedding or children's education.

Emergency savings are also important. This money should be easily accessible so you can access it quickly.

l Don't save on important things like insurance and medical cover. Do not swap long-term peace of mind for the short-term relief of having enough money for day-to-day expenses.