“Today is the only important day. There are 86,400 seconds in a day, and how you use those are critical.”

As someone who’s training to run a marathon next June, I’m constantly bookmarking inspirational quotes and videos I find online. The above quote is from a video collage posted by a fitness facebook page, that is six minutes of pure motivation.

My interpretation of this quote is that today is only day you have control over. Today should command your full attention, and requires all of your effort and energy.

Yesterday is done and gone. You cannot change what you did yesterday, whether you made good choices or bad ones. If you did well, then use it as momentum to help you do well again today. If you made poor choices, use them as motivation to make today different.

This is especially important for financial choices and spending habits.

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Regularly setting financial goals, and mapping out a plan to reach those goals, is a practice that can transform your life. The problem is, while it’s fun to think of big goals and imagine your dream life, it can be hard to find the motivation to take action. And actually sticking with the plan once you’ve created it, is even more of a hurdle.

So how do you stay motivated to reach big goals when you struggle to keep going, or can’t find the inspiration to take the first step? If you have trouble staying on track, one of these unusual but fun techniques will no doubt help get your fire back. (They’ve certainly helped me.) Here are five ways to keep your eyes on the prize and actually enjoy the process.

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What truly constitutes an emergency? Many of us tend to justify taking money out of our rainy day fund by calling something an emergency when, really, it’s not a true emergency. As you work on building your emergency fund, take a step back and consider how you will use the money you accumulate.

Dr. Stephen Lesavich, the co-author of The Plastic Effect: How Urban Legends Influence the Use and Misuse of Credit Cards, suggests to create spending rules so your emergency fund doesn’t become a sort-of general fund that you raid whenever you feel like it. Here’s how to put spending rules on your emergency fund, that you’ll actually stick to.

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If you read or watch the news, you’ve likely noticed one scary thing: fraud is on the rise and perpetrators aren’t cutting victims any slack. This is even more evident as the holiday season gets closer, as consumers are trying to avoid the crazy shopping malls and opt to order gifts online instead.

This is beyond bad news for anyone who is inexperienced with financial issues, or don’t protect themselves when listing payment information online. But how about those of us who do take precautions, and are well seasoned in money matters? Unfortunately, criminals have a way of retrieving information and wreaking havoc on anyone’s wallet and possibly, credit profile.

And on the other side of the fence are companies that will do anything to make a buck, so they convince you to “invest” in your future by joining them. In essence though, you’re actually making their pockets fatter and will inevitably receive the short end of the stick.

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One of the pieces of advice you hear over and over in the financial industry is, to not borrow money against your home for basically any reason.

There are some people who suggest that it’s OK to take out a home equity line of credit (or HELOC) so you can invest the funds, or make improvements on your home. But to pay off consumer debt? That’s a no-no. I always thought this was a wise piece of advice, but recently decided not follow it.

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Halloween is just around the corner, and for some people it’s one of the most anticipated holidays of the year. The National Retail Federation expects Halloween to cost the average person $77.52 this year* (including costumes, decor, and candy) which is up from $75.03 last year. This translates to over $7 billion nationwide.

This trend is as visible as the cropping up of exclusive “Halloween stores” that do 90% of their annual business in the month of October. With that much money being spent on one holiday, there are sure to be ways to save a money on Halloween costumes (while still having a whole lot of fun).

For instance, instead of looking for the best deal or piecing together a costume themselves, many people fall into the trap of paying top dollar for the exact costume they want. In our high-paced society, it’s convenient to wait until the last second and then buy a costume that doesn’t require any additional work or creativity. But what if you could save 50% or more simply by getting a little creative and planning ahead? 

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