New year, new you! Shoot for the moon!
“I’m going to lose 50 pounds.”
“I’m going to make triple my salary this year!”
Unfortunately, when it comes to New Year’s resolutions people tend to shoot for goals that are easier to ignore than to achieve. Only 8 percent of people actually keep their resolutions, according to Huffington Post. You are not alone, trust me. But here’s an idea: Get in the habit of spending a little less. It’s easy if you are resourceful.
You can live wealthy just by spending wisely.
You don’t have to eliminate the joys in life. A small savings goes a long way. There are plenty of steps you can take to save a couple dollars here or there. Here are some ideas to get you on track to actually accomplish your New Year’s resolution this year.
Opt to spend your time outside
It’s free! You don’t have to travel to Bali or go skydiving to feel liberated. Your budget may be tight but you can experience adventure without spending any money at all! Start small and you’ll feel like you can make it happen anywhere.
Before I started traveling, I would make it a point to see a new place almost every weekend. Whether it was a park 5 miles away or a small day trip to San Diego, it made the weekend worth working towards. You don’t even have to spend any money if you choose to just enjoy the view or go on a hike. Spare time is precious, spend it wisely.
Cut the coffee add-ons
- Did you know a vanilla latte at Starbucks is the practically the same as ordering espresso with milk and vanilla? You’ll save $2 every time if you just order it differently. (Or order a chai tea and add the milk at the bar to create your own chai tea latte!)
- Choose to add your own sugar instead of flavored syrup (or purchase your own to add in). It’s probably better for you anyways, and you’ll save 50 cents every cup.
- Split a venti 24 oz. drink instead of getting two tall 12 oz. cups. It’s the same amount of coffee, and usually they will split it for you if you ask.
Set up automatic saving transfers
Calculate what you can afford to set aside each paycheck, even if it’s just $20. Add a linked savings account with your bank that is designated just for this fund and set up automatic transfers weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Once you get used to it, you won’t even notice. Set and forget! You can use this as a travel, emergency, or play fund once it grows a bit.
Get the GasBuddy app
There are a few apps that track prices for gas stations near you. For those of you who hate going ‘out of the way’, this app will find you a gas station within your vicinity. A few cents per gallon may save you a small bundle in the long run.
Sign up for free customer rewards
Create a new email address to dedicate to online advertisements. This email will capture all the sales, free gifts, and promos that your favorite retailers are featuring without filling your current inbox with ‘spam’.
And before you buy, search for promo codes for your online retailer. There are sites like coupons.com or retailmenot.com that find online coupons every day to help save you money on shipping or certain purchases. There is no reason to pay full price if you don’t have to!
Search for answers
Instead of hiring the plumber for a small leak or going to your auto dealer for a new headlight, be your own expert. Ask Siri or Google, or just YouTube directions. You’ll be amazed at what you are capable of with just a little research.
Start selling your unwanted items
Chances are, your junk could be someone else’s treasure. You probably don’t need that extra set of china or clothing that doesn’t fit you anymore. You can bring your good quality items to a thrift store for a small buyback, or try to sell on eBay or Craigslist.
Some may think this is uncool, but if you’re not going to use it don’t waste it! Let’s be honest, you may not like that type of wine or you’ll never use that ugly blanket. The holidays are expensive so you might as well re-gift for that 5th white elephant party you have to attend.
Suggest cheaper activities when getting together with family and friends
Dinner and drinks can get expensive. Plus, you will enjoy your time more if you have a unique experience to share. When you meet up with a friend, do something different. Choose to make dinner at home, go hiking, spend time at the beach, or play a friendly game of cards or bocce ball.
Use a cash allowance
It may feel a little different but you could save a lot of money by avoiding swiping a credit or debit card each time you make a purchase. Take out a designated amount in cash. Give yourself a weekly allowance and try to stick to it. If you run out of money, rethink your strategy and spend a little less next week. Challenge yourself by leaving the cards at home. Keep a piggy bank for your change or extra money. It could add up!
Think before you buy
We all have a habit of throwing things into a cart. Before you check out, double-check each individual item. Do you already have this item at home? Will you really use or wear it? Is it overly expensive? Is the sale really worth it? Most of us do not go back to return unnecessary items, so do a double take before you buy. You can splurge, but do you really have to?
Finally, you can achieve a New Year’s Resolution this time. Keep it simple, you don’t have to be a finance guru to save a little bit of money. Cut costs when you can without sacrificing the enjoyments of life. When you notice the savings, big or small, spend it on a vacation or a new gift for you. You’ll deserve it.