Resolved to save money this year? Here’s how!
posted by: Gretchen
Do you have the same New Year’s resolutions every year? Every year I think, “Christmas shopping would have been easier if I would have planned ahead and saved some money. I resolve to save money this year.” I have heard that if you don’t have a Starbucks a day coffee habit, you can save something like $1,300 dollars in a year. But what do you do if you rarely go to Starbucks (less the few times I’ve wandered into one for meeting a friend and used a $5 gift card that I’ve held on to like it is gold)? And seriously, why bag on Starbucks anyway – It’s my fault that I can’t seem to save money like I want to, not Starbucks.
Here are a few ideas I ran across to get the job done for this year.
- Jump on the savings train now. Take action now when you’re thinking about it. Saving just $1 per how many weeks left until Christmas (counting down). Put $52 in a special Christmas account (or jar) this week, $51 next week, $50 the following week and so on.
- Think about where you can cut your bills. Do you have a gym membership that you pay for but never use? Cancel it – but pay yourself (into that Christmas savings). Do you hardly ever watch TV – cut the cable cord (I’ve not done this yet – but if you have please give me your advice/thoughts).
- Eat at home. This sounds sort of old fashioned (and maybe not that delicious for all those that cook as well as I do). This includes fast food places. At Chipotle, a naked burrito is essentially beans and rice that can be as cheap – well under $1! Plan your meals so that you also have leftovers for lunches – you can eat at work as well as home. And while we’re talking about food, plan-ahead and use it all. In a study done by the Natural Resources Defense Council the Average American household throws out between $1,350 and $2,275 in food each year!
- When my sister and I were little my mom didn’t like us going to the grocery store with her because we would beg for things that we really didn’t need. Fruit leathers were just 90 cents each. My mom would say, “you girls can 90 cents me to the poor house.” Boo! I used to get so mad, but now as a mom and as a deals blogger, I pay attention to every 90 cents too. When you control your spending and learn the value of the word no (even if it is toward that cute little peanut) you can save tons of money! Money magazine reports that 84% of us have bought something on a whim, many of these purchases are just $25 or less. (Do that just four times and you’ve totally blown $100!)
- Track your spending. Really the crux of this is set a budget. But sometimes knowing where to start is the hardest part. My favorite budgeting spending tracker is EveryDollar. The app helps you set up your budget but also can connect to your bank account – so you can really see how you’re doing against that budget you set up.
- Try to gamify it. Games are not just for kids anymore! We try to have No Spend weeks (we’ve amp’d this up from the no spend days). But we make a game of it. We try to think of fun things to do. Going to the park is…FREE and eating those frozen leftovers well planned out meal planning is a challenge.
- Greeting card switch up. We stopped giving greeting cards several years ago. Now, we give magazines. There are a couple sites we love like BestDealsMagazines.com where you can get a whole year of a favorite magazine around $4. That is what we were spending on one card. That way the person you gift it to gets something in the mail from you every month. Plus they get a whole lot more reading/enjoying time with a whole year’s worth of magazines than a 1-2 line card! (Just make sure the person knows the subscription is from you – when my sister mentioned that she was getting a magazine she didn’t pay for…we told her it was from us. But she had already been getting it for several months before she said anything).
- Planning your summer trip on the cheap. There are lots of ways you can make travel less expensive. Try an Air BnB instead of a hotel. You can save not only on the nightly rate but also eating in (See #3) will save money. Consider driving instead of flying – particularly if you have a larger family. By the time you pay the average airfare of $367 per person and have to pay for a rental car in your destination you could save a lot of money driving and having your own car.
- Rent it out. There are tons of things you have that you can rent out Rent out your house (Air BnB), Rent your car, Rent your RV (Outdoorsy) or rent your other stuff.
- Let’s face it kids are expensive. But here are some tricky ways to help save money when it comes to kids… potty train (diapers are expensive!), trade babysitting (swap with neighbors or friends who will get to watch the kids), consignment sales for clothes (Mile High Mama posts great sales round ups twice a year).
Like anything, while these ideas may be simple and easy – it is actually doing them that counts. Try just one? Maybe this is the year that the saving money New Year’s Resolution may stick.