Archive for January 2, 2024

2024 Money Resolutions: Small Changes That Lead to Big Savings

The new year is here – it’s time for a fresh start and an opportunity to improve your finances! Saving money is one of the most popular new year’s resolutions, but it can be tough to actually follow through. The good news is that making small, simple changes to your daily spending and money habits can lead to big savings over time.

Follow these 12 money-saving tips to set yourself up for financial success in 2024:

1. Track your spending
The first step to saving more is knowing exactly where your money is going. For at least a month, track all of your spending – every coffee, household product, and cash tip. Use a notebook, spreadsheet, or one of the many budgeting apps and money trackers available. This spending log will reveal your habits and show you areas where you can cut back. Do you really need that $10 lunch delivery every day or $100 designer jeans? Once you have a solid understanding of where your money is going, you can make an informed budget that aligns with your savings goals.

2. Make a realistic budget
Now that you’ve tracked your spending, dig into the details to build a realistic monthly budget that works for you. List all of your income sources, then map out essential and non-essential expenses. Housing, utilities, insurance, debt payments, groceries and gas should be priority. Then factor in discretionary spending like dining out, entertainment, clothing and hobbies. Look for areas where you can reduce spending and reallocate towards savings. Having a detailed monthly plan and sticking to it will help you spend wisely, avoid debt, and bank more cash. Budgeting apps like Mint, You Need A Budget, and EveryDollar can make it easy.

3. Pay with cash only
Multiple studies show that people are likely to spend less when using physical currency instead of credit and debit cards. When cash is your only payment option, you can visually see it leaving your wallet which makes you really think twice about unnecessary purchases. Try using cash only for small discretionary expenses like coffee, lunch out, snacks, drinks out, etc. Limit yourself to a certain amount each week to curb spending.

4. Unsubscribe from all non-essential emails
Retailers constantly send promotional emails to lure you into sales, deals and offers to keep you spending. Reduce these spending triggers by being ruthless and unsubscribing from any brand emails other than absolute necessities. Out of sight can lead to out of mind spending. Don’t tempted by the constant barrage of coupons, discounts and flash sales.

5. Institute mandatory waiting periods
Impulse buys are hard for anyone to resist. But you can outsmart your urges by instituting a mandatory waiting period for any non-essential purchase over $50. Give yourself 24-48 hours to consider whether you really need or want that item. Chances are the urge will pass in a day or two. For big ticket items, wait even longer.

6. Pay down high interest debt aggressively
Credit card debt, payday loans and other high interest debt can amount to huge monthly interest charges and take years to pay off. Make it a top priority to pay more than the minimum due on these balances each month to pay them off faster. Any extra cash in your budget should be allocated to debt payoff before other expenses. Transferring to a lower interest credit card can help too.

7. Renegotiate monthly bills
Take a day each month to call up your service providers and negotiate for better rates. You may be able to get a lower cable and internet bill, cheaper cell phone plan, reduced gym membership fee or lower insurance premiums. Even $10-20 in monthly savings adds up fast. Consider bundling and ditching services you don’t really need.

8. Pack your lunch
Skipping the $10 deli sandwiches and $8 food delivery orders can save you big bucks each month. Put those groceries to use by packing healthy, affordable lunches and snacks to bring to the office or school every day. Making a big batch of soup, casseroles or other leftovers on weekends makes this easy. You’ll save at least $50 a month or more.

9. Shop and eat like a local
Tourist hotspots always have inflated prices. Skip the overpriced brand name souvenirs, restaurants and attractions. Talk to locals to discover the hidden gems offering authentic experiences and food at better values. The same goes for your home city – avoid the trendiest areas.

10. Choose generic brands
Opt for generic or store brand items instead of pricier name brand counterparts. Medications, pantry staples, household cleaners, over-the-counter medicines and grocery products are virtually the same quality when generic. You get the exact same product for often 40% less.

11. Make coffee at home
Daily expensive coffee shop runs add up fast. Make it at home for a fraction of the cost. With affordable coffee makers like Keurig and Nespresso, delicious lattes, espressos and frozen blended drinks can be whipped up for pennies per cup. Brew a thermos to take in a tumbler.

12. Eat out less
Restaurant meals, takeout and delivery should be limited to special occassions. With shelves of ingredients ready, take time to cook more easy, affordable meals at home. Soups, tacos, eggs, pasta and roasts are budget friendly. Use a slow cooker or Instant Pot for fast prep.

Implementing even a few of these handy saving strategies can put hundreds of dollars back in your wallet over the course of 2024. The small changes truly do add up, allowing you to pay off debt, build emergency savings, invest for the future and have extra spending money. With a little diligence, it is possible to achieve your biggest money goals this year!