By Justin Ehrhardt
Now that February is wrapping up, you may be two months behind on your goals! Let’s be honest, we are still writing “2018” on our papers so it is not too late to start over and get on a good path for the remaining 10 months of 2018…. I mean 2019.
Most people have given up their goals because there wasn’t a plan in place. One of my favorite sayings is, “Most People Don’t Plan to Fail, they Just Fail to Plan.” Let’s look at some simple cost-saving moves you can make to finish out the year strong.
1. Start Budgeting
One of the problems most people have is that they spend too much money. Isn’t it easier to do that these days? We can pay electronically throughout phones, smart watches, swipe, insert the chip, etc. We spend and spend until we run out of money and then we wait to get paid again in a week or so. Does this sound familiar? It happens more than we think. The first, and sometimes hardest step, is to make a budget and stick to it. If you are super tedious like I am, every time I spend money, I jump online with my google sheets and track my spending. You will not believe how much money you recklessly spend.
2. Clip Coupons
Now, I am not saying become a reality TV start with your couponing shows and 100 bottles of Mustard you got for $1.47. I am talking about simple phone apps that you can download and use at most checkouts. I use apps like RetailMeNot, but you can often find discounts if the store has an app – like Kroger, Khols, etc. If you can save a couple bucks per store, that will add up over time. One of my recommendations is taking whatever you were going to spend and put that extra into savings. The small things really add up.
3. Check Your Energy
If you have old windows, you may notice that when you sit next to them, you get a draft? That is wasted energy. Find ways to fix up your windows, new/upgraded insulation in attic space, pre-setting thermostat (Dads, find a way to lock it up from the kids). Simple fixes and reducing energy costs will build up your bank over time.
4. Don’t Buy New
I always tell my clients that if they go to a store and see a $1,000 purse on sale for $750 and you buy it, you didn’t save $250, you spent $750. Assets that you purchase that are depreciating should not be bought brand new, most of the time. Most people will go broke trying to look rich. There is nothing wrong with getting something from a pawn shop or company that has re-used merchandise. As long as you need it, try to find it in a pre-owned condition first.
5. The 30-Day Rule
Remember 20 years ago when we didn’t have the ability to impulse buy as much? You have $20 in your pocket, you see a $30 pair of shoes, you can’t buy it! Now, you can buy it even if you know you shouldn’t. One thing I always do is leave my debit cards at home and use cash. I typically have $200 cash on me. I use that for my monthly gas spending and food when I am on the road. When it comes to purchasing anything I want, I wait 30 days and if I still want it and have the budget to buy it, I will. Waiting eliminates a lot of wasted money!
6. Make a List
Have you ever gone to the grocery store hungry? Or “healthy” you does the shopping and “fat” you hates you later when there’s only broccoli to snack on? Having a shopping list, and sticking to it, helps keep you on track with not only your budget and spending, but also your health. Having a line by line item is going to save you a lot of time and energy figuring out what to buy. You will be far more efficient and focused knowing what you want/need.
7. Stop Unhealthy Habits
Not smoking is another way to stop spending money. When you quit smoking, it will obviously improve your physical health as well as your financial health. The cost of cigarettes over one year definitely add up! I encourage you to look at how much a pack costs, how many packs you go through in a week, then multiply the cost by 52. Even if you spend $10/week, that adds up to $520/year!
8. Get Rid of Credit Cards
Spending more money on interest in credit cards is one way people don’t realize they’re wasting money! If you have a credit card, every penny in interest is wasted by you and gained by that bank. Get rid of your credit card dependency and get focused on using your own cash. (More blogs to come about this subject).
9. Stop Unused Memberships
Have you ever had that little membership for $7/mo or $10/mo but you don’t use it? Many of these membership programs are cheap so when you see it come out of your bank automatically, you don’t even think about it. You just tell yourself it’s only $7 or $10. What you don’t realize is when you have unused memberships going out monthly, you lose a lot of money. I had one client who spent $150/month on memberships and didn’t use them. How much are you spending on useless memberships each month?
10. Eliminate Your Cable Bill
Cutting cable seems extreme but, how often do people really watch it anymore? With so many streaming platforms, you can get all your beloved channels for a fraction of the cost. Using alternative services can drastically cut your spending bill. I have some clients who have $100+/mo cable bills and they watch maybe 2 hours of TV a night. Look into Hulu’s Live TV option or YouTube, where the the cost is around $40/month for popular channels.
Bonus idea: Get a strategy in place to start building an emergency fund. Check your insurance policies to make sure you have the coverage you need. Research ways in your community to have free (or nearly free) fun with your family.
It might take a little extra effort, but putting these ideas in place during 2019 will help you and your family save more of your hard earned money, getting you closer to your retirement goals.
Let’s connect and get you started on the right path. Give me a call at (229)444-7624 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to talk.