The year just got started, but it’s not too soon to think about your money–how you want to spend it, save it, invest it, or make it work for you. Make this the year you get your money right. Here are 10 very doable things to do to help you on the path.
We know it’s so much easier to grab takeout after a long day at work or to buy lunch out when you’re at work. But eating out costs a lot. In fact, 45 percent of Americans say food costs takes the biggest dent out of their budget. So take a little time over the weekend to plan your food for the week. Cook a big meal on Sunday that you can have for leftovers on Monday and Tuesday, then cook again on Wednesday. As far as lunch, take 10 minutes to pack a lunch the night before. Treat yourself once a week to delivery or a nice dining experience out.
What’s the best way to save money? Track your spending. If you know what you are spending money on you can get a better handle on how to cut costs. Make a “Track Your Spending” worksheet. Here’s how according to Save and Invest:
–List your regular monthly bills.
–Track your daily spending. “Keep track of all the money you spend for a week on groceries, gas, meals, clothes, entertainment, personal items, and even coffee and snacks, which can all add up. Keep a small notebook with you or just collect the receipts during the day and add them to the list in the evening. Keep track of all expenses for the week, whether you pay for them in cash or use a debit card, credit card, check or mobile app.”
–Go through your spending record to see what you are overspending on.
— Create a plan for what you want to spend less on and what you want to buy.
Need More Money, Ask For It
Sometimes no matter how hard you budget there is just not enough money to go around. It might be time to ask for a raise. “If you’ve put in a lot of extra work on a project or made a valuable impact at your workplace, don’t be shy about negotiating for more pay. Do your homework to determine the true market value or your role and expertise position the ask in terms of your contribution to the company, and why it would benefit your employer to provide a monetary incentive for you to stick around. If you feel you’ve reached the cap on what you can learn and earn at your current job, look for career opportunities in the new year,” reported Chime.
Get Into A Financial State Of Mind
To save money you have to be in the right frame of mind. “Practice financial mindfulness,” reported Chime. “Being financially mindful means appreciating what you have and considering the trade-offs involved when spending money. When that paycheck comes, don’t think about why it’s not as high as you’d like. Celebrate that it came in the first place and affirm yourself for having earned it. Before you click ‘Buy,’ stop to consider if what you’re about to purchase will bring lasting satisfaction. Practicing financial mindfulness empowers us to resist the lure of short-term gratification in exchange for future earnings.”
Pay Bills First
Don’t hold off on paying your bills, take care of them immediately. “Pay bills right after receiving your paycheck,” reported WalletHub. “Taking care of monthly obligations before allowing yourself to indulge in any luxury expenses is a helpful budgeting strategy, giving you a better sense of what you can truly afford and what you can’t. It also helps you avoid ever having a late payment reported to the major credit bureaus, which is one of the easiest ways to damage your credit score.”
Pick And Choose Your Credit Card
Make sure you are using the rights cards at the right time. Examine your interest rates on your cards and decide what cards you will use for small purchases and which one for large purchases. ”The Island Approach involves isolating unique financial needs on separate financial accounts, as if they are a chain of islands. The most basic application of this strategy is using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases that you can repay in full by the end of the month and a 0% APR card for revolving debt,” reported WalletHub.
Get Your Insurance On
Many of us feel things will work out and that insurance is just an extra, unnecessary expense. But this is not the case, having insurance can actually save you money. “Where life insurance is concerned, stick with term life insurance – it’s cheaper so you can buy as much as you need. Just make sure that you’re not buying so much life insurance that you’ll be worth more dead than you are alive; it’s just an expense you don’t need to carry,” reported Nerdwallet. “Take the highest deductible you can on your health insurance, and make up the difference with an emergency fund that is large enough to cover that deductible – if you seldom use your health coverage, you’ll be way ahead from the lower premiums.”
Really, do you need all the stuff you have? It’s time to live on less than you earn. “By learning to live on less than you earn – no matter what – you will always have plenty of income. That means that you’ll have plenty of income for savings, investments, and for paying off debt,” reported Good Financial Cents. “It’s important to always be on the hunt to increase your income. But that strategy will only be effective to the degree that you are able to live on less than you earn, so that you can put the difference to better use to improve your life.” Clear out your house, donate your stuff and live lighter.
Try “Stuff” Rehab
Cut your “addictions.” Can’t live without your Starbucks every morning? Have to buy luxury goods all the time? Time for some “buying” rehab. “An addiction to stuff can be like a financial parasite. A disproportionate amount of your income and financial reserves will go to pay for your need for stuff.,” reported Good Financial Cents. “Stuff needs to be stored, and as your pile of stuff grows, you will need an ever larger space to store it. That will likely see you looking to buy a bigger house every few years, with all of the expenses that come with it. Stuff is a capital trap – it ties up your money, but generally provides no financial benefit…Stuff has a way of eating up time, so that you have less of it to spend on more productive activities.”