The new year starts with the intention to save money, but how often do our financial resolutions go astray when the bills pile up at the end of January?

Here are a few simple steps you can take to get on top of your debt and get your savings piling up:

1. Set goals

Start with the basics and write down what you want to accomplish in 2017 – and yes, writing it down is much better than just having it in your head. Nothing is too big or small, so include any plans you have to pay off credit card debt or simply get away for a few weeks. 

2. Make a plan and stick to it

You know what you’re goals are, so write a timeline and set specific dates for when you will reach them. Be realistic with your finances and take your income into consideration. For example, if you were planning to go overseas for the Easter break, you should set a realistic budget by calculating how much you can put aside for the trip by that time.

3. Get real, be honest about debt

A good way to see a snapshot of your current debt situation is to review your credit score. Its the number that many creditors use when deciding whether to lend you money. A strong credit score can help you save money by qualifying you for lower rates on loans and credit cards. If you have a lower credit score, it’s important to understand how to improve it over time.

The free service online GetCreditScore will put you face-to-face with you credit score in a matter of minutes.

4. Get the right tools for the job

Sometimes the best plans are only possible with the right tools. Thankfully there are a ton of free budgeting apps and websites that can give you the necessary know-how to hit your savings targets. Check out ASICs TrackMySpend app or the all in one money management tool MoneyBrilliant. These apps are free to use and boast a ton of budgeting features. 

5. Cut away the fat

Certainly the least enjoyable part of saving, but often the simplest and most effective tip is to cut away the fat. Swap buying lunch every day for left overs and give yourself a free pass on Friday’s to reward your efforts. Think twice about if your purchase is a 'necessity' before whacking it on the card. Little sacrifices like this can make the biggest difference in the long run.