Get out of debt, save money or get ahead this year! It doesn’t take a genius to save money. Set some finance goals, follow some financial rules and reach your goals! The only enemy to you saving money is you!
Here are ways to save money in the New Year!
Make, and stick to, a budget
Diligently track your income and every expense that you have. Then follow these parameters to make a sustainable budget (advice provided by E. Kim Dignum, a financial planner in Fort Worth, Texas, courtesy of CNN Money).
(all figures are percentages of your gross household income)
30 percent: Housing and debt (mortgage/rent, credit cards, auto loans, student loans, etc.)
26 percent: Living expenses (food, clothing, utilities, transportation, medical, entertainment)
25 percent: Taxes (federal, state, local, and property; FICA and Medicare) 15 percent: Savings and retirement (401(k), stocks, mutual funds, college savings, etc.)
4 percent: Insurance (life, health, disability, auto, homeowners, etc.)
Set and Achieve Financial Goals
Goal setting may not be exciting or fun, but it helps you save for, and achieve, exciting and fun things! As well as save for things that may not be as exhilarating but are still important. You could just wait and see what is left over at the end of the month after you pay your bills, but you may wind up having no savings if you take this approach.
For right now, think about the goals you want to achieve and when you want to achieve them by. Don’t worry about the cost. Then, figure out what your goals are so you can then calculate how much you will need altogether. This way you will know what you should set aside each month. The amount depends on whether it is a short-, mid-, or long-term goal.
Eat at Home
Not only will you eat healthier, you will save tons of money! Bag your lunch, prep your breakfast and menu plan for a little extra cash in your wallet. Put aside some extra time to plan your food for the week, grocery shop smart and check for sales for some extra savings. Always treat yourself to nights out, just pay attention. Make eating out a special occasion and you will look forward to it as an exciting treat rather than the norm.
Save Unexpected Income
When you have a unexpected income (bonus, overtime, gift, or cash for extra work) — save it! Put it immediately into some sort of savings or investment. Watch your savings grow, and you won’t feel deprived because it was money you never had to begin with!
Ditch Your ATM Card
Stop making impulse purchases! From the small pack of gum to the new pair of shoes, unless it is essential, you don’t need it. You can stop your bank account from hemorrhaging! Take a page from the old-timers and shred your ATM card. Figure out how much cash you need each week for your regular, cash-based essentials. Go to the bank teller’s window, and get your budgeted cash for the week. With a finite amount of cash, you will think twice before those spur-of-the-moment, unnecessary purchases.
When you pay your bills every month, there’s one more check you should be writing, one to yourself! Every month, or even better every paycheck, make sure you set an amount aside for savings or investment. A good number is 6-10 percent. If you have to, write yourself a check to deposit or send to another account. Just as you pay your mortgage, or rent, without fail, now you’ll be paying yourself too!
Using these tips I have paid off several student loans, have a healthy and growing savings account and several retirement investments! With a change in thinking, and some frugal habits, I was able to kick the spending bug and save money! Use one, or all of these, habits to help you set, and reach, your financial goals and save money!
Your turn! If you have any money saving tips, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear what you’ve got!