Believe it or not, it can be harder to stay on top of your finances compared to losing weight, which is a popular resolution this time of year. The problem is, you join the gym and try to make a routine of going, but after a few weeks or even months if you can last that long, is visit become less frequent and then all of a sudden you haven’t gone in months and continue to pay the membership dues every month. While it’s a noble effort in trying, when it comes to your finances, it can be even more difficult. Most live paycheck to paycheck and if there were some sort of financial disaster like a major auto repair or the furnace going out, you’d likely have to put on a credit card and risk going into debt going forward and throwing the budget out of whack. If you are completely out of debt, have an emergency fund built up of a few months’ worth of reserves, and have a significant portion of your income going to retirement, then you’ve succeeded, but if not, looking to reduce money wastes and free up extra money should be more than just a resolution, but a new way of life.
Avoid Going Out to Eat
While it’s nice to take a trip to your favorite restaurant, whether it’s for lunch, taking home carryout, or spending with the family, spending that many trips eating out can add up pretty quickly. Sure, it’s convenient, but it comes at a price. If you can avoid going out to eat and limit to even once or twice a week, you will see a significant rise in your remaining funds, and even opting to going grocery shopping instead can help lose a few pounds with the new healthier lifestyle.
Don’t Forget the Coupons
Now more than ever in trying to save every dollar you can, it’s time to take advantage of the available coupons out there. While sure, the Sunday paper still have its circulars where you skim through and clip coupons on the items you need, grocery stores now are even offering digital coupons that you can load to your shopper’s card to come off at the cash register. In addition, sites like Groupon offer discounts on clothes, concert tickets, and trips that you can get at a significantly lower rate than booking direct at full retail price.
Cut the Cable Cord
With so much talk about those that are getting rid of cable, it sounds like the cable companies could be out of business any day now. While it’s likely still a long way away, it does open up the possibility that cable TV is no longer a necessity and there are plenty of other cheaper options out there. Just think about the number of channels that you pay for and how many you actually watch live that is. The rest is recorded on DVR so you can flip through commercials, not to mention using a streaming service or two that has all the best shows anyways. If you’re worried about missing out on network TV, you can still get an HD antenna to put on your window and get the local news in high definition.
Don’t Limit to Only Using Cash or Debit
With so much competition out there for credit cards, you’re likely to get offers via email and mail weekly, all offering various ‘deals’ on interest rate, no annual fees, etc., but what you should be paying attention to are the rewards associated with the card. By selecting the card with the best rewards, you can earn cashback or points on the purchases you were going to make anyways, adding up to leaving hundreds of free dollars on the table. Sure, using credit or debit allows you to only spend what you have in your bank account, but if you can use the credit card responsibly, it would make more financial sense to use the card and watch the rewards add up.
Pay the Entire Statement Balance
There are many money wastes that we can make in the course of a month, but there are no bigger wastes than credit card interest. By not making your full statement balance payment and carrying over, you will be charged interest, which could be upwards of 16%, and depending on the balance, could be hundreds or even thousands of dollars in wasted interest payments made over the course of the year. It is important for your financial future to stay out of credit card debt and put your hard-earned money to better use than paying interest.