Getting a handle on your finances can seem like an overwhelming New Year’s resolution, but once you get started, you’ll find saving money is easier than you think! Check out these creative and practical money saving tips to get you on your way toward your financial goals in the new year!
Establish a Budget
A good way to keep track of your expenses is to create a budget where you can categorize everything from living essentials to flexible spending. This helps you see how much money you’ve spent in each category at the end of each month, which can provide a roadmap for categories you can cut back on or put into savings. Experiment with different budget plans—like the 50/20/30 or the Zero-Sum Budget—to see what works best for you. Also, you can use a free app like Mint or HomeBudget to monitor your spending and manage your budget.
Set Savings Goals
Being strategic with your savings can help you reach your financial goals. If you’re trying to save for a downpayment on a home, have plans to buy a new car, or want to pay off those pesky student loans, it’s important you set saving goals. No matter what you’re trying to save money for or pay off, consider using a savings calculator to make a budget and see how interest or adjusting your timeline can change your target!
Try the 52-Week Money Challenge
Looking for easy ways to save money? Try the 52-Week Money Challenge! There are no complicated rules to follow, just download the chart, and every week you will add one more dollar to each week’s goal. By Week 52, you will set aside over $1,000! Be sure to keep the chart in a visible spot like on your kitchen fridge or next to your computer as a reminder.
Save Part of Your Paycheck
If you use online banking, try setting up an auto-transfer to automatically add money to your savings account. This handy financial hack is all about paying yourself before you start spending money. A good rule-of-thumb is to put 20% of your monthly income into savings. Of course, 20% of your paycheck is a lot to give up, so review your expenses to see how much you can comfortably set aside.
Put Your Bills on Auto-Pay
Keep yourself from missing “due by” dates on your bills by setting up auto-pay! When you use auto-pay, you’re ensuring all of your monthly bills will be paid on time. This helps you avoid any large charge fees or expensive late fees, which can set you back in your financial planning.
Match Your Spending with Saving
If you’re looking for a way to tamp down spending, and ensure you’re putting money into savings, try to match your spending habits with saving habits! To do this, think about it this way—if you buy a nonessential item like a morning latte, a round of drinks, or a new book, transfer the same amount you spent on those items into your savings account. This way, you won’t fall behind on your savings or overspend, even if you treat yourself every now and then!
Choose a Credit Card Wisely
Looking for ways to save money with a credit card? Pay attention to the rewards, interest rates, and fee structures! Choosing a credit card with low-interest rates, cashback or travel perks, or zero annual fees can help save you money in the long run.
Try Different Apps to Help Save Money
If you need a convenient way to kickstart your saving goals, try a mobile app! There are a lot of great finance apps out there that can help you hit your financial goals! You Need a Budget (YNAB), helps you get out of debt by displaying your true expenses and by giving every transaction a spot in your budget. Prism tracks all of your bills and sends you reminders to prevent late payments by allowing you to pay your bills through the app! And EveryDollar allows you to easily know much money you have spent and how much you have left in your accounts throughout the month!
Upgrade Your Bank Account
If you’re not gaining much interest from your savings account, consider transferring the balance to a high-yield savings account. These accounts help you save money quickly for high ticket items like a car or downpayment on a house. Are you paying fees for your checking account? There are a number of free checking accounts with no balance requirements, which can help you meet your financial goals too!
Stick to Your Bank’s ATM
If you need to make a deposit, withdraw cash, or check your balance, make sure to use ATMs owned and operated by your bank. Along with non-network fees charged by your bank, third-party ATM operators can charge a separate fee, which makes a quick visit an expensive one.
Look for Multi-Policy Insurance Discounts
If you have your renters insurance with one company and car insurance with another, consider combing everything under one umbrella. Most insurance companies offer a discount if you bundle your homeowners or renters insurance, auto, or life insurance policies under one account, which can help lower your monthly expenses over the course of the life of your policy.
Buy Household Items in Bulk
Purchasing items like laundry detergent, canned and dry goods, or toilet paper in bulk can be an effective money-saving strategy. The per-unit price of bulk items is typically much lower than regular sized items, making it easy and affordable to stock up on necessities. Make sure you have enough room to store these items so they don’t clutter your kitchen, closets, or mudroom.
Prep & Cook Meals at Home
If you’re wondering how to save money on food, try meal planning and packing lunches. The average American household spends $3,000 yearly on dining out. If you always purchase the same sandwich, chips, and soda combo at lunch, buy those items at the grocery store and prep your meal at home. Use sites like Pinterest to find cheap recipes that can be made in bulk (like slow cooker meals), or sign up for a $5 Meal Plan to create delicious, budget-friendly meals with plenty of leftovers.
Grow Your Own Food
Growing your own food can help you save big on your grocery bill. If you have a backyard, a good-sized plot can turn the average $70 garden investment into over $500 worth of fresh produce! Live in an apartment? Turn your patio into your own DIY urban garden, which will give you the space to grow herbs, vegetables, and other fresh produce.
Stay In Instead of Going Out
Going to a movie, grabbing dinner, or meeting up for drinks can quickly eat up the money you’ve set aside for flexible spending. So invite friends over instead! Put together a dinner or potluck where everyone brings a dish, pile up cushions and blankets in the living room for a movie night, or organize a game night where everyone brings a snack or bottle of wine.
Buy Generic Brand Items
Another simple way to save money when shopping is to consider buying generic brands instead of name-brand. You likely won’t notice a difference in product quality, but you will in price! Some generic products can be 30 to 60% lower than name brands. Generic brands are available for food items, bath products, household cleaners, over-the-counter medications, and much more.
Spending a little extra time comparing prices can save you money in the long run. Price comparison tools like InvisibleHand and Honey are browser plugins that alert you if an item, airline ticket, or hotel booking you’re about to buy can be found cheaper elsewhere. Both apps also find sales and codes from across the web to apply coupons to every purchase and ensure you’re getting the best deal!
Take Advantage of Shopping Apps
Never buy household goods, grocery items, or clothing at full price again! Apps like RetailMeNot do all the deal-seeking work for you. All you have to do to take advantage of coupons and deals is show your phone at checkout. Many grocery stores also have their own free mobile apps that offer great coupons and deals. Be sure to check coupon apps like Checkout 51 or Ibotta as well. These allow you to scan certain grocery store receipts and receive cashback.
Wait Before Making a Nonessential Purchase
How many times have you gone shopping for one thing and come home with a bunch of stuff you don’t need? Here’s a handy trick to avoid those guilty purchases— give yourself 30 days to make sure you really want it before purchasing nonessential items. If 30 days have gone by and you’re still thinking about the item, you can treat yourself. But if you haven’t thought about it, then you probably don’t need it.
Sell Items You Don’t Want or Use
If you’ve recently decluttered your home, you may have a pile of items you want to get rid of. Go through that pile and see if there’s home decor, accessories, clothing, and other gently-used items that are sellable. Local consignment stores, websites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or eBay, and apps like Poshmark and ThredUp are all great resources for selling new or gently used items. Just make sure you deposit all of the money you make into savings!
Evaluate Subscriptions & Memberships
How many subscriptions, clubs, and memberships are you currently signed up for? Ditching a few services or memberships you don’t need (or don’t use) can help you save tons of money each month! Use an app like Rocket Money to find and manage recurring payments on any forgotten subscriptions. In addition, review everything from your cable and streaming subscriptions to Amazon Prime and food delivery services to determine if you’re getting the same value you’re putting in.
Create Your Own Home Gym
The average monthly cost of a gym membership is around $58, and if you never use the gym, that’s money you’re throwing away. Cancel your membership and create your own home gym instead! Subscribe to free YouTube workout channels like BeFit or PopSugar Fitness, or rent workout videos and instructional books from your local library. You can also find at home workouts for all abilities and levels from online magazines like Women’s Health, Self Magazine, or Men’s Health.
Switch Out Your Light Bulbs
Are you spending a lot on electricity bills each month? Ditch regular light bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs (light-emitting diodes) or CBLs (compact fluorescent bulbs). LED light bulbs can last up to 25,000 hours or almost five years, and they use about 75% less energy and can last up to 8,000 hours. Both options use less wattage and much less electricity, saving you money on monthly utilities.
Do you keep your coffee maker, toaster, TV, or computer plugged in at all times? Even if they’re not turned on, they’re still drawing energy and increasing your electric bill. Whenever you’re not using them, unplug nonessential appliances to keep costs down.
Save Money with a Low-Flow Shower Head
Dispensing up to two gallons per minute, low-flow showerheads can save you money on your water bill! If you take a 25-minute shower, you can save up to 2,00 gallons of water (60% of your water bill!) in a single year by installing a low-flow showerhead. You can find these showerheads between $10-$30 at local home stores, and the installation is quick and easy!
Shop Around for Gas
Instead of stopping at the most convenient gas station, utilize online tools and apps like GasBuddy to find cheap gas in your local area. If you spend a significant amount on fuel, there are a number of cash-back credit cards that will give you up to 5% back each time you fill up. Certain grocery store chains also offer rewards like discounts on fuel, so do your weekly shopping at these spots to take advantage!
Change Your Car’s Air Filter
Preventative car maintenance can help save on repair costs down the road. But did you know changing your air filter can actually save gas? This money-saving hack can improve the gas mileage of your car by up to 10%, which averages around $100 saved for every 100,000 miles driven! Air filters are easy to change in most vehicles and can be bought from most auto parts stores for less than $20.
Use Public Transit
A great money-saving tip you can utilize this New Year is taking advantage of your local public transit options like buses, light rails, trolleys, or trains. Using public transportation instead of driving can save you nearly $10,000 annually (i.e., about $800 a month in gas, parking, maintenance, and other vehicle costs)!
Enjoy Free Activities in Your Area
Looking for free or cheap activities to enjoy with friends or family? Take a walk on a nearby trail, shoot some hoops at a local park, or pack a picnic and find some green space. On rainy days, visit museums and galleries that offer free admission.
Get a Library Card
Utilizing your local library can save you tons of money on miscellaneous purchases like movies, books, or printing documents. Along with free books, most libraries offer ebook downloads, computer access, and free or discounted tickets to local events and attractions. You can even take writing classes, join a chess club, or participate in a book club. Just make sure to return your items on time to prevent any late fees!
Shop Strategically for Holiday Items
This budget-friendly technique can help you land some excellent deals! Buy Christmas lights, holiday cards, Easter baskets, Valentine’s Day candy, Halloween decorations, and other items the day after the holiday in question. Many items will be on sale for at least 50% lower than the original price!
With these creative tips, getting your finances in order is an easily attainable New Year’s resolution! Looking for more ideas to improve your life in the new year? Try moving to a new city or overhauling your home!