7 Money-Saving Resolutions You Should Make This New Year
Could this year be the year you get your finances in order? Before you get overwhelmed by a total money makeover, try these seven tips for saving money that expert financial advisors use with their clients.
Put it in writing
The very first financial resolution you should make, no matter where you stand, is to take outline your financial situation in writing. For some, it may seem easier to ignore your savings accounts in favor of simply making ends meet from week to week, while that’s tempting, you’ll never take control or your finances by avoiding them. “Take an hour or so to take inventory of all of your financial accounts,” says Patty Cathey, financial advisor at Smart Retirement Plan. Create one document with the type of account, info on how to access it, the account holder, and the contact information. “If applicable, review the list with your spouse and any adult children,” she adds. Here are 25 secrets rich people won’t tell you.
Track your spending
Some financial mishaps happen simply because we aren’t paying close enough attention to our spending habits. Once you have taken an inventory of your finances, watch your spending for unnecessary expenses.”Take out the magnifying glass and take notice of the details in your financial picture,” Cathey advises. “Comb through your credit card statements to see if there’s any unnecessary spending or charges. Are you paying for a gym membership or cable channels you don’t use? Is there a charge you didn’t make that could be fraud? Paying attention to the little things can make a big difference in your finances.”
When the New Year rolls around, the temptation is to make extreme financial resolutions all at once. But don’t get so caught up in your resolutions that you set yourself up for failure. Cathey advises her clients to make small changes to their spending, since they are more maintainable over time. “Taking a baby step in cutting your spending can start you on the path to even bigger savings,” Cathey encourages. “For example, instead of cutting out Starbucks completely, cut out one cup per week in January. Same thing goes for bringing a lunch to work: try packing a lunch one day. You may find it’s easier than you realize.” By February you may be skipping two lattés and bringing your lunch twice a week. These are the 11 mistakes you’re making when you are trying to save money.
Search for creative ways to make extra cash
Making a little extra cash in the New Year could get your started on reaching your financial resolutions. Cathey encourages her clients to start with what they already having, selling any excess they have in their home. “Take a quick test: Open your closet and look inside,” she says. “Any clothes or jewelry you haven’t worn in three years can be sold to a consignment shop or on eBay. Children’s consignment stores will often buy used toys, cloths and books.”
Wait before you swipe
Make a new habit of waiting before you spend on an unplanned purchase. Did you spot a piece of house decor at Target during a diaper run? Take time to think about the purchase before you swipe your credit card. “Apply the 48-hour rule by giving yourself a mandatory waiting period before making a big purchase,” Cathey says. “Many times, you’ll forget about the item you so desperately wanted when you’re in the store. If you still want or think you need it after 48 hours, talk over the purchase with a spouse or loved one.” Here are 15 things you never knew you can borrow to save money.
Pay yourself first
Even if you mean well, life can get in the way of prioritizing saving for emergencies or getting ready for your retirement. David Bach, author of The Automatic Millionaire, encourages individuals with big financial goals to start by making their savings automatic each time they get paid. “Adding a small amount to your savings is pain free and pays off in the long run. Increase your 401K payment by either a set dollar amount or 1 percent,” he says. Then, utilize online banking tools to efficiently distribute money into different accounts including: retirement, emergency, and college savings, as well as mortgage payments, credit card, and other recurring bills.
Plan for the future
There is no time like the present to plan for the future. Sit down with a financial advisor to make sure you are on track to retire with plenty of money in savings. While you’re at it, Bach suggests you make a will. “Take the time now to know where your finances will end up,” he advised. “Most people don’t know how quick and easy creating a will can be.” Next, check out 56 almost effortless ways to save money.