If you are like most when it comes to resolutions, you stick with them for a few months and then it’s back to normal behaviors. That’s why you see the gyms packs in January, and by May they have cleared out, yet opinion outpost show they are still paying the monthly dues. Same goes with saving money. As you get the holiday bills coming due and seeing your bank account low, you probably are saying now is the time to make changes. Well the good news is that that are a few ways to start saving money in 2018, but it’s up to you to stick with them. Once you see the extra money start to add up each month, hopefully there will be no going back to your typical spending behavior (and lack of saving) and you can strive to be financially successful this year.
Set Realistic Expectations
Much like saying you are going to lose 30 pounds right away, you are just setting yourself up for failure when you know that probably will not happen. Same goes with your finances. If your goal is to cut spending and save $10,000 in a pretty short period that is probably not realistic, especially if that means saving every dollar and probably go insane not being able to have any fun. If you can meet in the middle by setting realistic spending and saving expectations, you can still not miss out on life experiences that make you happy.
Build an Emergency Fund
One of the best areas to save first is giving yourself a cushion if any large unexpected charges come up, whether that is medical or auto repairs, or even floating for a few months if there is an unfortunate job loss. If you can put a few months’ worth of expenses into an account for access when something comes up, you can avoid putting on a credit card and risk going further into debt, especially if you don’t have any extra money right now and will now be taking on an additional monthly payment until it’s paid off.
Now that you have a little cushion built, now is the time to free up some extra money and that can be saved with keeping track of spending. Whether that is necessary monthly payments, food, gas, or entertainment spending, it’s good first to see where the money is going, and take count to make sure first that more money is coming in instead of going out. By pulling last month’s credit or debit card statement you are able to then go line by line and examine each purchase, deciding if it was a must or could have been avoided, and then hopefully purchases will start to be under a microscope a little more.
Since you have now figured out where your money is going, now would be a good time to figure out how much you should allocate out to each area so you can stay under budget and continue to free up extra money each month so that the additional money can go towards paying off debt and saving for your future. Your budget will take some tweaking along the way, but if you stick with it, it could be a huge payoff in a few months.
Seek Out the Best Deals
It used to be that we would have to drive all over town looking for the best deals out there, but after spending the day searching, plus wasting gas, you could wonder if it was even worth it after that. These days with the convenience of online shopping, you can compare virtually and endless number of sites in the matter of minutes before finally making the purchase with the best deal. Between free shipping, and able to stay in the comfort of your own home without fighting lines and traffic, you can get your shopping done with ease on your mind and your wallet.
Stay on Top of Finances
Now your savings will not grow exponentially overnight, but if you stick with it, in a few months you can see real progress, especially if you continue to monitor your budget and free up money each month. When you go to pay bills each month, check balances to make sure they’re trending in the right directions, whether that is credit cards going down and checking, savings, and retirement continuing to go up. As you see progress, hopefully that will continue to provide motivation that the resolution of saving money in 2018 was worth it.