Is one of your New Year’s resolutions saving more money in 2020? Here are 13 simple tips to help you and your family kick the year off right and get on track to start saving:
- Track your monthly spending. Do you know how much you spent on morning coffee last month? How about lunches? You will be surprised how quickly these expenses add up. Realizing you spent $50 at Starbucks last month might make you think twice about your morning latte. Could you make a cup of joe before you leave in the morning? Probably. You plan to walk into Target for two things, and you walk out with seven. You may love impulse buys, but your wallet does not. Make a list of every NEEDED item and then create a mental checklist of the impulse buys while at the store. In 24 hours, if you are still thinking about that impulse item, buy it. Chances are you don’t need that new shirt or serving plate, and creating this 24-hour hold on impulse spending will discourage these purchases.
- Drink more water. Drinking water instead of a beverage at your favorite restaurant or fast-food chain can save you as much as 20% on your bill. And don’t buy bottled water to drink at home, invest in a high-quality water bottle. Drinking filtered tap water is just fine; you’re helping the environment, and you can save as much as $400 per person in your household switching from bottled water.
- Carry snacks. When we’re hungry, our resolve is weak, and it’s all too easy to drop a couple of bucks in the vending machine to curb our hunger. But those small purchases add up over time. Stash snacks in your purse, car, office, and other places you can quickly access to curb those hunger pains until you can have a real meal.
- Stop at the thrift store before buying new. Need a crockpot? Maybe some household decorations? How about new clothes? You’d be surprised at how many exceptional, lightly used items can be found in thrift stores for a fraction of the cost.
- Shop around for insurance, cable, and phone companies. Before renewing your contracts, look around to see if you can find a better deal. If you find one, call your current company and ask them to match your new quote. Many times, companies will cater to you as they won’t want to lose you as a customer. You could be seeing some additional savings each month without changing a thing. Win-win!
- Eat more meals at home. We certainly don’t want to discourage you from supporting local restaurants, but do you eat out more than you eat at home? Make home cooking more fun! Go online and discover meals that are tasty and easy to make. Slow cook a roast during the day in that crockpot you bought at the thrift store. Make large batches so you can freeze and eat later or take to work for lunch the next day.
- Eat out strategically. If you are eating out, there are many restaurants that have specials by days of the week or by time. A local Thai restaurant offers daily specials like their popular Pad Thai Tuesday where you can buy one Pad Thai meal, get the second for a $1. Many restaurants offer early-bird specials like Olive Garden’s $8.99 dinner from 3-5 pm Monday through Thursday. With a little advance planning, you can enjoy eating out for half the cost during busy hours.
- Lower your mortgage rate. Refinancing is a great way to save money each month for the cost of a few phone calls. Check out the current mortgage rates then contact your original loan provider. Could they refinance you at a lower rate? It is worth looking into.
- Find free events and activities. Many cities have a plethora of free events and activities. In Kansas City, you can take the kids to an afternoon at the Nelson Atkins, watch Shakespeare in the Park in the summer or visit the Deanna Rose Farmstead for free. Like to see movies on the weekends? Look for free movie events around town. Summer movies in the park are very popular; pack a picnic and a blanket and enjoy the evening outside. Websites like VisitKC are a great resource for finding those low-cost family activities. Check Facebook events for upcoming free events in your area.
- Give up those premium TV channels, or cable altogether. Spending more time on Netflix than HBO? Let go of that additional monthly cost and hit up Redbox or Hulu for other movie needs.
- Carpool with friends and coworkers. If you’re going in the same direction to the same place, why not ride together? It’s a great way to start the day conversing with friends, you’re helping to lower carbon emissions, and saving money.
- Take advantage of the public library. The library is a great place to check out and read the latest best-selling books, but few people realize you can also listen to popular music releases and audiobooks for free. You can sign up for free language courses, classes on everything from preparing your taxes to preparing a Thanksgiving dinner and speaking events from well-known authors like Mark Greaney.
- Try something new! Do you go out to eat with your friends? Try a pot-luck dinner at your home for one month. It is more personal and cheaper for everyone. Go old school and start a family game night with classic games like Monopoly or Yahtzee, or one of the dozens of new games that come onto the market each year.
There are lots of simple ways to kickstart your savings for the new year, but the first step is realizing how much you spend. Keep records of your monthly expenditures to look for areas of improvement, but also to see how much your budget-friendly changes are paying off. Realizing your new lifestyle saved your $300 last month will keep you engaged and excited about saving money. Good luck!