Goals for the new year are the norm, and resolutions seem to get more trendy every year. Financial programs are becoming more common in our culture. People are making sacrifices to live debt free. You may have jumped on the bandwagon and made a New Year’s money resolution yourself.
When you think about saving money, you’re probably thinking of ways to save big chunks of money, cut out extra spending, and make substantial lifestyle changes. But what if you can save money without flipping your life upside down?
The pandemic has caused people to re-evaluate their lives, from lifestyle changes and traveling more often to saving money whenever possible. We’ll help you make those new year money-saving goals into reality by implementing price comparisons, cutting food costs, and providing easy ways to save.
The first step to saving money should constantly be re-evaluating your budget. Make a list of all of your regular monthly expenses. Many of the amounts on that list probably cannot change, like your mortgage payment and water bill. However, you have the power to change some of your monthly expenses.
You can minimize some of your expenses by shopping around. Spending extra time researching and comparing prices can help you find discounted car insurance, home insurance rates, or even cheaper internet and phone plans.
Online shopping has become all the rage in the last few years because of the pandemic, the simplicity, and the convenience it provides. You can buy anything and everything online, ranging from grocery items and electronics to cleaning supplies and even cars. But did you know that you can compare prices online before buying?
A simple Google search can give you different retailers selling the same product that you’re interested in and the price they are charging. If one store is cheaper than the other, it’ll take you no time at all to switch over to buy from the less expensive option.
Online shopping can save you money on other expenses, including saving gas and putting fewer miles on your vehicle, leading to less maintenance being needed on your car.
Cutting Costs on Food
Did you know that between 10-15% of your income should be spent on food? American families eat around 4.5 meals out a week. If you don’t know how much you spend on food, look at your bank statements to highlight any food purchases you typically make. You should include restaurants, fast food joints, and grocery shopping.
If you discover that your family is spending more money on food than you thought, there are ways to cut food spending without going hungry. Simply buying generic or store brand items vs. name brands will add up to significant savings through the year.
Take a look to see if your local grocery store has the option to order groceries online. The pandemic has caused stores to make things easier for you. You can order groceries online with opportunities to pick them up and have them delivered at most large grocery stores.
Ordering online not only saves you time from shopping, but it also saves you money because you have less opportunity to impulse buy.
Meal planning is another excellent way to cut down on costs. Planning meals ahead of time can sound daunting. However, it will help push you closer to those money resolutions you started the year envisioning. You can then take the money saved from simple switches and invest them in a low-liquidity account.
Set aside time each week for your family to plan your meals and make your grocery list based on the items needed to make those meals and staples that you buy each week. After creating the list, check your fridge, freezer, pantry, and cross off items you already have at home.
Cutting the food budget shouldn’t be an all-or-nothing thing. Suppose your family eats out five times a week. In that case, it may be a shock and an unrealistic expectation to eliminate eating out altogether. If you relate to the above scenario, try cutting outside eating from five to two days a week. Then, slowly over time, eliminate typical restaurant or fast food trips.
When trying to spend less money on food, give yourself some grace. Understand that some weeks and months you may be successful and others you may not, and that’s OK as long as you stay dedicated to the overall goal.
Simple Ways to Save
When thinking about your goal of saving money, try to think small. People tend to think of these big goals that are unrealistic in nature and lead to burnout or stopping their plans altogether.
Getting rid of simple things can lead to significant savings. Can you cut out buying coffee from your favorite coffee shop and brew some at home instead? Can you switch car insurance companies to get a better rate?
Think of the savings you can have when you aren’t spending $5 on a coffee each day. Suppose you were buying coffee every day; that’s nearly $1,850. If you haven’t already, consider switching all of your light bulbs to LED lights in your home and ask about high-efficiency discounts. This is an easy way to lower expenses and put more money in your pocket.
Taking shorter showers, washing your clothes in cold water, being extra cautious about turning off lights that aren’t being used, and changing air filters regularly are all simple ways to save money without having to make many sacrifices in return.
Use the do-it-yourself (DIY) trend to your advantage. Sites like Pinterest and YouTube have made step-by-step instructions for at-home projects more accessible than ever before. Just be cautious of your time and ability because getting in over your head could lead to financial loss.
Things to Remember When Trying to Save
Remember to compare prices for things you pay for. Saving money on car insurance or your cellphone bill can really add up over time. Take a few extra steps to plan, shop smart, and find an accountability partner. And do not forget, every penny counts toward your new goals, so don’t get discouraged if your savings don’t total the amount you initially dreamed of.
Start small and re-evaluate your budget as often as needed. Making changes doesn’t mean you failed. But it can mean that the system you choose isn’t working for you. Speak to friends, family members, or financial experts who can support and provide guidance when you are struggling or celebrate your successes. Whether your New Year’s money resolution is to get your finances in check, cut costs on extra spending, or take steps toward being debt free, creating a plan and following that plan diligently will provide you with the best system to meet your goals.
Kalyn Johnson writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org. Kalyn enjoys planning for financial freedom and hopes of living debt free one day.