While you are resolving to quit smoking, lose weight, and begin an exercise program in 2014, give some thought to getting into better fiscal shape also.

The first part of the year is the ideal time to take a good look at personal and family finances. Take stock of where you are in preparation for doing taxes, as well as recovering from holiday spending.

The first step is getting organized. If you don’t have a record-keeping system, the beginning of the year is a good time to begin. Start with an expanding file folder or even a kitchen drawer–some specific place to store receipts, billing statements, payment booklets, cancelled checks, owner’s manuals, and other important papers. Keeping these records in one location will help to avoid frantic searches during tax season.

Next, set some goals for the coming year and let everyone in the family be involved. Sit down with all family members and talk to them about the financial goals for the coming year. Let each individual set personal goals also. Write it all down and help figure out how much it will cost and make plans for covering these expenses.

For example, if the family decides they want to take a vacation to Disneyland in 2014, all of them should help figure out how much that trip will cost and how they are all going to collectively save the money for the trip.

Everyone has a say in the plan, so it makes it easier to know what the cost will be. Everyone has some input into how at least some of the family money is spent.

After setting these financial goals, develop a plan for saving the money to make the goals a reality.

Take a look at everyday spending habits and how they can be reduced.

Step Up & Scale Down in 2014

Step Up & Scale Down is a 12-week (with one week of registration and information for a total of 13 weeks) educational program based on the USDA Dietary Guidelines, which are intended to help Americans choose a healthful eating plan within their calorie requirements to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. The Dietary Guidelines provide sound scientific information about how proper dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.

The series kicks off at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 9, at the Senior Citizens Center. The series continues each Thursday at 4:30 p.m. through April 3.

The program consists of weekly lessons to help participants move toward a healthier weight and includes a weekly weight check-in, weekly challenge to “stay the course,” Dinner Tonight healthy recipes and tips, exercise resources and a weight-loss planner.

Cost for the program, which includes all course materials, is: $10 for senior center members that pre-register by Jan. 7, or $15 for non-senior center members and the public (registration is required by Jan. 7).

Register and send check to: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, 701 S. I-35E Waxahachie, TX 75165. Make check payable to: Family & Consumer Science ProgramCall 972-825-5175 for questions or comments.