Every year, people all over the world make resolutions as the new year begins, and why not? The new year symbolizes a chance to reset and make a fresh start. Often, the resolutions are about fitness or weight loss goals, or perhaps leaving behind an unhealthy habit like smoking cigarettes. For this year, why not make a small resolution or two concerning your financial health too? If you follow just a couple of these money saving tips, you’re guaranteed a healthier pocketbook in 2010.
It all starts with a budget. Taking a little time to create a realistic household budget will reward you with the power to prioritize your spending toward things you truly need and want. Start with the costs that are absolute necessities such as housing, food and transportation, then include other anticipated expenses. If possible, include some savings each month as well, even if it’s only a small amount at first. There are numerous software or web based tools that make it simple to create your budget, or a simple spreadsheet will do the trick. If you create a budget and resolve to stick with it, even for a week or two, you may be surprised at where your money is actually going, and will likely find simple things you can do to save.
Watch what you eat. No, we don’t mean necessarily eat less or healthier. What we’re talking about is saving on food costs, one of the top three components of your household budget. It’s estimated that the typical U.S. household spends up to 15% of their budget on groceries. Take a look at our posts on saving with grocery coupons and loyalty cards for tips on reducing your food costs. While you’re at it, yes – healthier choices like fresh fruits and vegetables generally do cost less than fat laden pre-prepared meals or eating out – so you can probably boost your financial and physical health at the same time by adjusting your diet accordingly.
Shop around. Before you make any purchase, take the time to shop for the best price and the best discounts. A little research and comparison can make a huge difference in the bottom line, and the Web is an incredible resource for finding the best deals. Our site is a wealth of opportunity when it comes to saving on everything from every day necessities to major purchases, so be sure to include it when you’re shopping for discounts online.
Cut the incidentals and add-ons. If you’re in true commando budget slashing mode, take a look at any ongoing expenses for things that you really don’t need or use. Review your credit card statements. Are there any recurring fees that you’ve completely forgotten about? Look for club memberships or subscription fees. How about your home phone or cell phone bills? Are there additional services there that you don’t often use? Or why not review your cable plan? You might decide that you can do without those 117 extra channels that you seldom watch. Look around the house for magazines that you don’t read, etc. You may be shocked at how quickly the savings of a few dollars here and there being spent on things you don’t even use can add up to real money.
Save your savings. As mentioned earlier, getting into the habit of regular savings, whatever the amount, is an essential component of financial health. It offers a measure of security and helps you prepare for unanticipated setbacks, whether in the form of car repairs, loss of a job, medical expenses or whatever. Take a look at your budget, and determine a realistic amount that you can put in savings every month, and then think of it as another bill. Even if it’s only $15 or $20 at first, start getting in the habit. It adds up quicker than most people realize, and if you have it automatically transferred from your checking account to savings, you’ll be less likely tempted to spend it.
There are literally hundreds of other steps you might take to boost your financial health in the new year, but these five tips are a good start toward a new financial you in 2010. Good luck!