By now, you’ve probably dusted off your favorite yearly resolutions: exercise more, lose weight, drink more water, spend less time on social media. But did you remember to write down some resolutions to better your personal finances? You’ve just flipped your calendar for the new year, so it’s time to flip your financial habits as well. Here are a few resolutions to make 2020 a financial gamechanger.
Cancel Subscriptions You Don’t Use
There seems to be a subscription service for anything and everything these days. You want seasonal ice cream flavors delivered to your home each month? There’s a subscription for that. The same goes for toilet paper, clothing, makeup, newspapers, and music services. These subscriptions hit your credit card every month and you might not notice them under the other small charges, like your daily coffee run.
Subscription fees on a credit card can be a surprising pain for consumers who don’t keep a close watch on their statements. They can add up to hundreds and even thousands of dollars a year. And it’s not just the memberships you actively use, but fees that kick in after free trials, auto-renewing services, and subscriptions fees that increase over time.
A recent study showed that among the 17% of consumers who canceled a membership their average annual saving was $512. Take time this year to look through your statements and see if there are any subscriptions that you aren’t using and cancel them.
Prioritize Your Debt
Carrying multiple debt accounts, especially at varying interest rates, can feel like death by a thousand paper cuts when your bills come in the mail. Get out of the habit of piling on more debt upon your previous liabilities and make eliminating them a priority. Make a list of your debts and organize them by annual interest rate. Then, plan to pay off those with the highest interest rates first, like your credit card bill. It does no good to invest money while you are paying 19% or more in interest each year.
It might be a good idea to sell your certificate of deposits, savings bonds, or other cash holdings and use them to pay down your highest interest balance in full or in part.
Collect Your Change
It’s time to break out the ‘ole piggy bank and start stashing away lose change. Next time you’re at the grocery store and your purchase total comes to $38.27, pay $40 in cash and keep the change. When you get home throw the change in a large container (empty water jugs make great adult piggy banks!). If you stick to this plan and don’t spend any of the change, you’ll be surprised to see that you’ll have saved hundreds, if not several thousand dollars, over the course of the year.
Some financial institutions and applications have developed digital versions of this spare change collection that automatically rounds all of your purchases up to the nearest dollar and puts the difference aside into a separate account. Imagine all the things you do or buy with your change!
It’s never too late to dream a new dream and start saving towards it. Your dream can be anything from saving up for a down-payment or finally starting a retirement savings account. Whatever your dream, make sure you know your how much your it will cost and make a savings plan so you can achieve it. If you want to fund your dream by the end of 2020, all you need to do is divide the amount you need to save by 12, and you’ll know how much money to set aside each month.
For example, if you want to start 2021 with a brand-new car that costs $30,000, you’ll need to set aside $2,500 per month to reach this goal. But your goals don’t need to be this big or daunting to achieve. You can start by saving $167 per month to have a $2,000 emergency fund by the end of the year.
Another way to save money this year is creating a savings account dedicated for certain expenses. This will keep you from going on a shopping spree and finding out at the end of the month that you don’t have the cash to make your car payment.
Finally, money-saving apps, like IBOTTA, can help you save money on your everyday purchases. Once you’ve earned enough cashback, you can cash it in for gift cards on things you want. Not only do these apps encourage you to make it a habit to save money, but you get to reward yourself once in a while to encourage you to keep saving!
Remember: a goal without a plan is just a good thought. If you want to actually meet your 2020 financial resolutions, write down two or three of your goals, create a plan, and get to work! Take advantage of a new year and remedy old mistakes and reach new money milestones. Make this your best financial year yet!