With the new year upon us, it’s time to get your budget in order! And if you’re serious about improving your financial situation, you either have to make more money, spend less or both.
No more! 8 ways to save money in 2017
Today we’re going to focus on ways to cut expenses, even if you think you’ve tried it all before.
Here’s my question to you: Are there any expenses that you can cut out or reduce in 2017? You may not be able to do everything on this list, but I challenge you to at least try something!
Once you see how little changes can have big effects, you'll be motivated to do even more.
1. Impulse purchases
Feeling the urge to spend your Christmas bonus? Remember the 30-day rule. Let’s say you see a TV set that you really like, but you don’t necessarily need a new one. It’s strictly a “want.” Instead of buying it on the spot, try to delay the purchase for a month. If you’re still thinking about that TV set 30 days later, do some research to find the best price possible. And maybe the 30-day rule is too long, especially for small purchases that won’t break your budget. If that’s the case, you can always delay the purchase for a shorter length of time, like a day or two.
2. Overpaying for insurance
The thing about insurance companies is that they often charge loyal customers more than those who shop around for new policies every couple of years. You have nothing to lose by comparing insurance prices when your policy is up for renewal, which could be every six months. The last time I got a renewal in the mail, I called a few competitors and saved $100. Go ahead and put a reminder on your calendar now so that you don’t forget to shop around.
3. Your morning coffee
We’ve all heard about the latte factor before, but it’s worth repeating because it’s so easy to make your coffee at home and save up to $500 a year. Using the Rule of 752, you quickly realize how these small purchases can add up over time. Let’s say someone spends $20 a week on coffee for 10 years. If that person had invested the money at a 7% compounded rate of return, they’d have $15,040! That may be enough motivation to plug in your old coffee maker.
4. Fast food lunches
Fast food can be tempting because it’s cheap, easy and tastes good. But with a little meal planning, you can prepare your own lunch for a lot less than the cost of a combo meal. We recently met a mother of 13 who puts dinner on the table for $1 per serving, which is way less than the drive-thru. If you don’t want to give up your fast food lunch entirely, you could save a few hundred bucks in 2017 by skipping the daily trip to the office vending machine.
5. Clothing, books, toys, etc.
Do you have a collection of items in your house that’s out of control? For some families, it’s stuff like clothing, books or toys. If your closet is overflowing, maybe you can try to go the entire year (or at least one season) without buying anything new. After cleaning out your closet, you may find that you have plenty of clothes that you don’t really even wear very often. Try setting the monthly budget for at least one spending category to zero and see how you do!
Read more: 9 tricks to slash spending on clothes
6. Wasting food
Many of us are already saving money on our groceries by shopping at discount stores, clipping coupons, planning meals around the circular and using cash back apps. But all of that hard work is only worth it if you don’t let your food go to waste. There are estimates that the average American wastes 30% to 40% of their food each year, either at home or in a restaurant. Try posting a waste sheet on your fridge to keep track of the food that you’re throwing out and how much it’s costing you. This may help you identify an item that's consistently ending up in the garbage.
7. Paying bank fees
If you’re constantly being hit with bank fees, resolve to switch banks in 2017. This will likely mean leaving one of the “mega banks” for good. Surveys have shown that customers are more satisfied with credit unions, particularly when it comes to customer service and fees. There are also a number of online banks that promise no fees and no minimum balances.
8. Keeping up with the Joneses
Finally, the most important tip of them all. The number one way that I keep my budget on track doesn’t involve complicated math or even numbers at all. It has to do with my mindset. I believe that life is too short to be chasing materialistic possessions that “everyone else” supposedly has. This doesn’t mean that I don’t spend money. Of course I do. I just try to think about how my purchases will improve my life, not how they will make me look to family, friends and strangers. Redefine what you really "need" and you're bound to save money.
What is one expense that you've cut or reduced that made a big impact on your budget? Tell us about it on Facebook!