Is your New Year’s resolution to save more? Spend less? Get your finances together in general?
All of these financial goals are easier than your think. All you have to do is make some incremental changes. Rather than thinking you’ll save $4,000 this year, think about saving $1,000 a quarter. Start with the first quarter to kick off your New Year’s resolutions with a bang.
Sound like a lot? That’s why you’ll want to break it down more — to make it more manageable. A first-quarter goal of $1,000 in savings is roughly $333 per month, or $83.25 per week. That’s doable, right? It’s $11.89 per day.
Make it a challenge to save that much every day this January through March, and beyond, with these money-saving tips.
1. Workout Cheaply
Yes, you need to be healthy in the New Year. But there are less expensive ways to do it than monthly gym memberships or paying for classes. Since you can ride a bike and walk for free, quit the gym for a few months.
Try to commute to work by bicycling or walking, and you’ll see great two-for-one savings. If you pay monthly for classes and only end up taking a few, see if you can get them a la carte instead.
2. Less Television, Less Cable
The U.S. is in a golden age of cable shows, with tons of offerings vying for our time — and our pocketbooks. Paying for cable and multiple subscriptions can really add up.
First, see if live streaming can replace your television shows, and try to cut the channels in your package to a bare minimum. Second, limit yourself to one or two cable offerings. If you want to see Night of the Walking Dead, check out your local library. A surprising number have great DVD collections, and you can check them out free.
3. Lower Your Car Insurance
You have to have car insurance, no two ways about that. But car insurance premiums vary surprisingly in cost.
There are many ways to get cheaper car insurance. Get a price quote from your current carrier for how much it would cost if you had a higher deductible. In general, the higher the deductible, the lower the premiums.
If your car is older, you may be able to drop collision insurance. This is because a significant accident would cause more in damages than it would cost to replace the car. Finally, start shopping around. Get a price quote from at least three insurance carriers.
4. Drink Cheaper Coffee
This is a venerable piece of money-saving advice. But it’s venerable because it works. If you pay $4.00 for coffee per day, that’s more than one-third of your $1,000 in the quarter.
So brew your own at home. Have coffee-less days. Buy just coffee rather than mocha swirl. Switch to tea and bring tea bags to work. Whatever works to cheapen your caffeine fix.
5. Buy Groceries Rather Than Meals
Getting in touch with your inner cook is a great way to save money. If you spend even $50 per week on restaurants or take out, see if you have halved it during the quarter. That alone would save you $25 a week, or more than $3.00 per day.
Remember, you’re only trying to save $11.89 per day. Groceries are cheaper than having someone cook for you. Likewise, if you have already prepared food delivered from a service like Blue Apron — that’s expensive too. Fresh groceries are the cheapest, and cooking isn’t that much work once you get into a routine.
6. Set up Automatic Savings
To save $1,000, you need have a concrete way to see your results. Cutting expenditures is only half the equation.
Putting the money in a savings account or other secure place, like through setting up an automatic savings plan, is the best way to make sure that those $3, $4, $10 and $25 amounts end up as savings. Then forget it, or invest in a money market or other savings plans. Otherwise, you run the risk of simply spending the money you’ve saved on coffee on something else.
7. Institute a Clothes and Shoes Moratorium
Just do this for one quarter. You need clothes and shoes, of course. However, if you buy clothes and shoes for fun, not necessity, just table shop for the first three months of the year. If you spend $100 a month, that’s $300 of your $1,000.
A tip for people who love to shop: do it online, but don’t actually purchase. Have fun looking, ooh and aah, even place stuff in your cart. Just don’t hit the checkout button.
A $1,000 savings challenge per quarter can be fun once you get into the spirit of it. Remember, you are not giving up cappuccino or shoes forever — this is a lesson in practicing moderation and setting yourself up to successfully save throughout the year. You’ll be richer at the end of it!