Budget Tips for the New Year
We all know how easily motivated we are come the first of January. The world is at our fingertips and anything is possible, as it should be! But as the dreary month drags on and old habits set in, that motivation can come and go as fast as Christmas Day. Crowded gyms will likely become sparse and potato chips may find their way back into the pantry. However, if there is one resolution best stuck to, it is keeping to your newly improved 2015 budget. If you don’t know where to start, here are 10 budget tips for the new year you can use and adjust to fit your lifestyle.
Update/Make Your Budget
Clearly the first step for budgeting is making a budget! It can be a simple spreadsheet with your monthly expenses/income, or it can be a high-tech app that pulls in expenses on its own. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you’ll stick to and continue to update each month.
Cut Out Unnecessary Expenses
Take a good, hard look at your spending habits. Do you really need the cable, even when you can stream everything online? Do you really use that gym membership, or can you do workouts in your living room? If you can give up one of your monthly memberships/expenses, do it!
Know Your Credit Balances
With student loans, financed furniture, car payments, and various credit cards, it can be hard to keep up with your credit balances. Take an inventory and make a plan on how to pay off your debt.
Use the Snowball Method
When it comes to paying off credit, pay the minimum on your accounts until the smallest one is paid off. Then use that extra money you would have spent on the small account and put it in with the next smallest account payment. Snowball these amounts until you have a large amount to put into your last account!
Make an Automatic Payment Calendar
If you don’t already use automatic payments, it can be a great way to simplify your bill pay. But knowing exactly when your automatic payments go through is important. Make a calendar and keep it on your phone or computer. This will help your budget stay consistent and you can monitor any fluctuations that may occur with those payments.
Make Some Extra Spending Cash
I know there are little knick-knacks lying around the house that you could sell and make some extra money. You may even have an old desk lying around in the garage that you don’t use anymore. Spruce it up a bit and put it up for sale on Craigslist. Keep the cash in a safe place or a separate savings account so it doesn’t get lost in your daily expenses.
Stack Up Your Savings
A good way to start saving in your bank account is to increase your savings amount each week. So each week you increase your amount a dollar. You can start at whatever amount you’re comfortable with, but say you start at $1. The next week you’ll put in $2. It increases every week until you get to $52. By the end of the year you’ll have put in about $1400. That’s pretty awesome and seems simple enough!
Learn To Say No
So you’re coworker is having a get together at the cool new restaurant this weekend and you’ve been invited! When you’re sticking to a budget and you’ve hit your cap for eating out, it would be in your best interest to decline. As hard as it can be, learn to say no to unnecessary expenses.
Teach Your Kids
At a young age, start teaching your kids how to save money. If they earn 5 dollars doing chores, then have a little savings “account” box that they can put a percentage of their earnings in. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they catch on!
Have a reward for the money you’re saving. If you and your spouse have been dying to get out for a week, then do some research and find some great rates for a vacation. You can’t go on a “spending fast” for a long period of time without having a reward in place for your hard work!
All in all, keep your New Years Resolution of keeping a budget alive. Hopefully these tips will help you out and you can start feeling at peace with your finances. Here’s to a financially frugal 2015!
Madison is a Community Relations Specialist at Cougar Mountain Software. She majored in Business at BYU-Idaho and enjoys sewing, marketing, and fashion illustration. While these hobbies can get somewhat expensive, she’s a firm believer in saving money and sticking to a budget.