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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

The new year is right around the corner, and if 2013 wasn’t the best year for you financially, here is your opportunity to rewrite history.

As a parent, you undoubtedly have a lot on your mind. And with all your responsibilities, savvy money-management may fall through the cracks. Maybe you accumulated extra debt over the past year, or maybe your savings account didn’t get the attention it deserves.

Don’t let mistakes slow you down. With the following five tips, you can have a better 2014…

Start a college fund.
Whether your child is in kindergarten or entering junior high, now is the time to start preparing for college. College tuition constantly increases, and if you don’t start saving early, you might be caught unprepared.

If you don’t have a lot of extra money, you may feel that it’s pointless to begin saving for college. However, a little money in a college savings fund is better than nothing. Saving $50-$100 a month can make a huge difference over several years, especially if you open a 529 savings plan or deposit the money into a money market or a high-yield savings account.

Teach your kids about money.
Children aren’t going to learn money lessons on their own. It is your responsibility to teach them. And while some parents wait until their children are in their late teens, it might be better to start when your children are young.

Give your children an allowance and open a savings account for them. Teach the importance of saving money, looking for bargains and credit management. If you teach these lessons early, you might be able to stave off bad money habits and improve your children’s financial future.

Buy life insurance.
Many parents recognize the benefit of having a life insurance policy, but some postpone buying a policy because they don’t want to deal with the topic. However, running from the issue doesn’t change the fact that anything can happen. A car accident or sudden illness can take your life, leaving your spouse and children with very little income.

If you don’t have it, you can go to this site and buy it now. And if you already have a policy, review your coverage to make sure that it’s adequate for your family.

Plan for retirement.
If you’re still in your 20s, you may reason that you have a lifetime to think about retirement planning. The truth is, you don’t have that much time. The years can creep up fast, and if you don’t start retirement planning in your 20s or 30s, you may be unprepared later in life.

Make 2014 the year that you get serious about retirement planning. There are different options available to you. For example, you can enroll in an employer sponsored retirement plan if eligible. Or you can speak with a financial planner and set up an individual retirement account.

Set the example.
Recognize that your children watch your every financial move and they’re likely to imitate your behaviors. With that said, if you’re struggling with any bad financial habits, aim to resolve these issues in the new year.

Maybe you feel pressured to always keep up with friends and neighbors, which forces you to overspend and go into debt. Or maybe you have a ton of credit card debt, yet you only make the minimum payment each month. Are you bad with money and don’t have a rainy day fund? Before you can teach your children smart money management skills, you have to take your own advice.

So, what money-related goals do you have for the new year? Your finances don’t have to be perfect and you may experience a few setbacks. But if you remain determined and overcome hurdles, you can have a better 2014 – financially speaking.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to organize their finances.