Black Girls Rule has a great post about finances that I think all smart women should read. She makes several smart suggestions that would make for great New Year's resolutions.
My partner and I are renters and, like others in our age group and income bracket, we would love to own our own home...eventually. Fortunately, we saw the writing on the wall with regards to the subprime loans debacle. Boy are we glad that we waited! We've committed to waiting at least another year or two before buying so that we can put down a significant deposit and notes that will allow us to continue saving regularly.
I don't have any Prada or Coach or Jimmy Choo in my closet. It's all shopping mall prêt-à-porter for me. I've even been known to wear clothes from *gasp* Target or Wal-Mart. However, our lifestyle allows us to keep our commitment not to amass any credit card debt. In fact, the only debt we have is the remainders of our student loans. To me, it's definitely worth it. I don't have to spend my time worrying about whether our world may come crashing down around us.
The health insurance suggestion she made is one that everyone should listen to. I was in my early twenties, I was diagnosed with bone cancer. A lot of people who are that age don't bother getting coverage even when they can afford it. It's a hell of a risk to take. In fact, I don't think it would be too over the top for me to say that it's right up there with Russian roulette when it comes to risky behavior.
If I didn't have health care coverage, we'd be homeless right now. My yearly treatment costs are more than some people's retirement funds. Over the years, I've seen plenty of people who have lost their home, their cars, and even their relationships as a result of the financial strain caused by medical treatment costs. Please believe me. You do not want to be them.
People should also consider the fact that once you develop a serious health problem, it may be virtually impossible to get health insurance. Many health care plans don't cover preexisting conditions for the first year of coverage, so you'd be stuck paying out of pocket for your condition during that time. During that period, you'd still have to pay for the insurance plan just so that, in a year, they may start paying for a percentage of your treatment costs.
However, that's not all! Because you already have a serious health condition, the price of your plan will be higher because covering you would be considered a greater risk than if they were covering someone who has no history of serious problems. You may find out that the cost is more than you can afford at that point when it was something that you could have easily paid for, if you had joined before you became ill.