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Miami residents who want to avoid financial problems, and perhaps even bankruptcy, should take the advice recently presented in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story: It’s never too late to cut expenses and save money.

The national economy has shown some recent signs of life, with the unemployment rate dropping to 8.5 percent in December of 2011 — its lowest level in three years — and the economy adding 200,000 jobs in the same month. But plenty of people are still struggling with their personal finances, with many just a job loss away from bankruptcy or foreclosure.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently spoke to financial advisors who gave their advice to people looking to pay down their debt and save more money in 2012.

First, the advisors recommended that people make a budget. The advisors said that this was an especially important step for people looking to pay off loans. It’s important for consumers to know how much money they have coming in and how many dollars they have going out each month.

Advisors also recommend that people call their credit-card companies to ask for lower interest rates on their cards. Credit-card companies are often surprisingly willing to do this. Consumers should also prioritize their debts, paying off those loans on which the interest is not tax-deductible first. Of these loans, they should pay off the ones with the highest interest rates.

Other good moves for people in 2012 include increasing their 401(k) contributions and starting holiday savings accounts. By saving money throughout the year, consumers can prevent running up their credit-card debt during the holiday shopping season.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “It’s not too late to cut, save,” Lauren Davidson, Jan. 2, 2012