Follow some or all of the ten suggestions below to start your financial new year off right! You’ll be amazed at how much these little ideas can save you in a year.
- Meal Plan
Planning meals not only curbs impromptu pizza deliveries but also cuts down on food waste. Make a list, stick to it, and watch your grocery bills shrink. Simple, right?
The big trick with a grocery list is to make sure it is not at home while you are doing the shopping. It has happened here more than once ;>).
- Pack Lunches
Ditch the pricey lunches. Embrace homemade goodness. Packing lunches not only saves money (over $1,000 per person per year) but also ensures you’re eating healthier. Win-win!
For most of my working career, I carried a lunch. About the only time I didn’t was when I travelled for work and would be away several days at a time.
- Automatic Savings Transfer
Make savings a habit. Set up an automatic transfer to your savings account. It’s like paying yourself first! Even a small amount adds up over time.
We have three savings accounts. One for short-term expenses like municipal taxes, auto maintenance and insurance, a longer term savings for emergencies or unplanned expenses, and finally our retirement fund. Since our current retirement income is adequate for our needs, we now use this third fund for things we otherwise couldn’t do.
- Review Cell Phone Plan
Hello savings, goodbye overpriced plans! Consider switching to a cheaper cell phone plan or provider. There are a number of less expensive options that are worth checking out!
I have an iPhone 12 that I use for emergencies and the odd phone call. I only traded in my old iPhone 6 because I needed 5G for travel. Most of the features go unused by me, but I do use a few of the apps. I could probably get by with a cheaper phone, but my wife and I are able to share several apps like kindle.
How much phone are you paying for that you don’t really use? Do you buy a new one just because your plan is due? Could you use your current phone for another year or two? Great savings to be had for sure.
- Shop with a List
Avoid the temptation of impulse buys. Always shop with a list. It’s a simple trick that keeps your budget intact. Stick to the plan!
See my comments under grocery shopping as they certainly fit here also.
- Cut Down on Streaming Services
How many streaming services do you really need? Trim down to the essentials and watch your entertainment expenses dwindle.
I would clump this together with subscriptions. We aren’t big consumers of paid online content, other than our cable which is at the basic level. Since we seldom watch more than the local news, we could probably do away with that too.
- Review Monthly Subscriptions
Start the year right by decluttering your budget. Cancel any unused subscriptions lingering around. That magazine you never read? Say goodbye and save some cash!
We have cancelled all of our newspaper and magazine subscriptions as well as a couple of online subscriptions. I estimate we will save about $1,500 over the next year. Enough for a quick trip to see the kids at least.
- Sell Unwanted Items
Declutter your space and make some extra cash. Sell those items you no longer need. Your trash might be someone else’s treasure!
I don’t know about you, but this is the hardest task for me. I really struggle to get rid of stuff, because it might be useful some day. We paid over $2,000 a year to store stuff from our house that wouldn’t fit in our condo. The cost of storage soon exceeded the value of the goods stored. It was a little easier to give, sell or scrap stuff when viewed against the replacement cost vs. storage costs.
- Set a No-Spend Challenge
Challenge accepted! Pick a week to spend zero. It’s a game-changer for your wallet and a fun way to kick off the year with a financial boost. You’ve got this!
Since we eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, we made them an exception.
- Review Insurance Plans
Start the year with comprehensive coverage that doesn’t break the bank. Shop around for better rates on car and home insurance. You might be surprised by the savings!
Regardless of how nice your agent may be, he or she is probably happy with the status quo. Prod them to look around for a better deal, or maybe dig into it yourself. Insurance companies tend to take clients for granted and don’t really service their accounts.
Review your budget and make sure that it still reflects your situation. Has income changed? Did the mortgage or rent go up? Adjust your budget to prevent surprises later in the year.
What! You don’t have a budget? Check out my article Stay In The Black – How To Create A Budget.
Small changes, big impact. Let’s make January a month of frugal victories!
As always, I am not a qualified financial advisor. I just relate financial management to my own experience which may not resemble yours at all. Advice is frequently worth exactly what you paid for it. Most of mine came from expensive experiences.