As the new year approaches, it is easy to say to ourselves, “Next year is going to be different. I’m going to be thin, rich, and much, much happier.” Inevitably, next year will be quite similar to this year unless you put your mind to making a big change. But what if you committed yourself to a small change? Something that is easy to attain? What if you made a small change in your finances that would help you reap big rewards down the road?
In this segment, I have compiled a list of finance-related tips for 2017 from a number of websites (all of which are linked). There are so many tips out there, so I have found the ones that I feel are doable and will actually make a difference for a wide range of people. I hope this helps get you on track for your financial goals in the coming year!
- Make saving automatic – it’s easy to say that you will put aside a portion of each paycheck, but when the time comes around, there are bills to pay and things you want that always seem much more important than saving for later. But many banks offer an automatic deposit into your savings account. Speak with a banker to find out what options are available to you, and figure out how much you can actually afford to save. At the end of the year, you may be surprised at how much you’ve accumulated!
- Track your spending – an effective dieting strategy is writing down every bite of food you put into your mouth, and assessing where you are going wrong at the end of the day. This is the same idea – write down every single penny you spend, then take a look to see where you could save. You may even opt out of purchasing something unnecessary because you don’t want to put it on paper! This diary will come in very handy when you are setting your new and improved monthly budget.
- Focus on your debt – no matter which financial strategy you follow, you won’t find one that tells you to get into more debt (unless your financial planner also works for your credit card company). Debt is bad . And it creates more debt. And while you may see getting out of it as impossible, take whatever steps necessary to accomplish that goal. As your debts lessen, so do your monthly expenses. Which leaves you more money to pay your debts. Seems simple enough, right? It isn’t. But it can be done, so set your mind to it and make a change this year!
- Review your insurance coverage – when you set up your health insurance, you might have been in family planning mode. Now that you’re out of that phase, you might not need as much coverage. Check it out and see if you could be saving money each month.
- Shop around for deals and discounts – it is certainly easier to buy everything at one place, but if you do your homework you might be able to save quite a bit of money by shopping at multiple locations. Take advantage of sites like Ebates that offer cash back on purchases, but don’t get married to those sites. Do the math and figure out which deal is actually best, when you take into consideration shipping, tax and rebates.
- Grocery shop online when possible – everyone has the best of intentions when they make a list to take to the store. If we’re really intent on sticking to it, we make sure to eat first and set a shopping time limit. But unless you are the most disciplined person in the world, chances are you will run across something you just have to have, or you “forgot” to add to your list. When you shop online, you can type the items you need into the search bar, find the best deal and add to your cart. There is little chance of purchasing items you don’t need, as you won’t be passing them at every turn. Many places offer this now, and will even deliver for free if you spend a certain amount.
- Reflect on 2016 – how did things go this year? Were you able to save money, pay off debts, or overcome obstacles? Did you spend too much, not save enough or make major financial mistakes? Looking at what went on last year can help you to make improvements for the year to come. Correct any mistakes you made, and look to improve upon your successes.
I hope these tips will help you to leap into 2017 on the right foot, confident in yourself and your ability to make changes where needed! Even a small step in the right direction is an improvement, so don’t be disheartened if you aren’t a millionaire by 2018. As long as you are doing your best, you’re doing something right!