Top 4 New Year's resolutions for your pocketbook

3. Improve your credit score

Gregory Bull/AP/File
In this November 2012 file photo, a woman walks towards a home for sale during a viewing for brokers in Leucadia, Calif. An excellent credit score can lead to many benefits, including the lowest mortgage rates.

Excellent credit isn’t as exclusive a club as you might think, as about half of all consumers have it. There aren’t any capacity limits either, so there’s no reason why you can’t solidify your membership in 2013. A higher credit score can mean lower rates on everything from car loans and mortgages to insurance. 

Credit cards are the most efficient credit-building tools since they relay information to your credit reports on a monthly basis, and you can ensure the information is positive by making payments on time and maximizing your available credit.

Secured credit cards are a great option for people who are either just starting out or who have had difficulties in the past because they require a refundable security deposit. That deposit acts as your spending limit, precluding the need for issuers to charge high fees to offset risk.

3 of 4

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

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