By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–A new year, a fresh start, and for many — big plans for big changes.   If you’ve made a resolution to improve your finances in 2014,  3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan joins us with some advice.

A study from Fidelity Investments finds more Americans than ever will consider financial resolutions this year.  But there are a lot of factors that come into play. Some of which you can control, and some that you can’t.

For those looking to keep more money in the bank, America Saves – an effort coordinated by the Consumer Federation of America — suggests saving with a purpose.  They recommend that consumers pay off high-cost debt, reducing the amount of interest paid on credit card balances and other loans.  They suggest building an emergency fund to pay for unexpected expenses.  That way, you avoid high-interest, high-cost loans when that rainy day comes.  And they encourage consumers to bulk up retirement savings by contributing to a 401k or IRA.

Greg McBride of Bankrate says it’s going to be another tough year for savers.  According to McBride, “Short term interest rates aren’t going anywhere.  So that means savings accounts, money market accounts, even short term certificates of deposit, those returns will stay in the cellar.”

If you’re looking to buy a home or refinance your mortgage, McBride predicts interest rates will inch up, but will be still be relatively low.  He says, “I think we’ll hit the five percent mark on 30-year fixed mortgages in the first half of this year.  We could touch as high as 5 and a half percent in the back half of the year but this won’t be something that’s going to derail the housing recovery.”

When it comes to saving, make things automatic so you don’t have to take any action.  Check with your employer, many can set up direct deposits to savings accounts.  Banks and credit unions can also make the arrangement for a regular transfer.  That way you don’t have to think about it, increasing your odds of success.