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Each year one of the biggest New Year Resolutions is to get your budget on track, stick to a budget, or make a budget. Anything budget related. This seems to be one of the biggest stressors for many as well. Here are 25 tips to get your budget on track, and help keep it on track all year long!
25 Ways to Improve Your Budget This New Year
1. Set Your Goals NOW –The sooner you set your goals and are vocal about them then sooner you can get used to what your new spending habits will be. Being vocal about them gives you accountability.
2. Take Advantage of Workplace Benefits – If you qualify for benefits at your workplace make sure you take full advantage, check out what your benefits include such as a retirement account. Many employers will match up to a certain % of what you put into a 401 k. That's free money make sure you are fully funding up to what your employer will match each month!
3. Put Your Phone to Work – There are so many apps out that help you save money. Like Card Star where you can enter all your rewards cards and have them all in one place. Help get money back on purchases with sites like Ibotta, Shopkick, and Receipt Hog.
4. Get on The Same Page – You need to talk with your spouse or whoever you are sharing your finances with to make sure you are on the same page and hold each other accountable. Set up monthly meetings to keep things on track and make adjustments as needed. See how 10 Minutes a Week with my Husband is Saving Me $100 a Month.
5. Saving Without Thinking About It – If you can set up an allotment in your check set it up so a certain amount of your paycheck goes right into a savings account each payday so you never even see it. Out of sight, out of mind. You can also use sites like Digit to help save money for you, it's free! Find out how Digit works.
6. Go Paperless – How many times have you had a late bill because you lose the bill, causing you to forget about it? Go paperless and have those bills emailed to you, then you can put them in a folder until payday and you have them all in one neat spot.
7. Unsubscribe – Unsubscribe from your ‘great deal' and ‘sale' emails. Take away the temptation to buy and get off budget.
9. Improve your Credit Score – Use a free site like Credit Sesame to monitor your credit score. The better your score the better of a deal you can get on things such a car loans and mortgages.
10. Update Your Insurance – If you have been with your current home, car or life insurance policy for a few years it's time to check it over and update it. More than likely you can get a batter rate and are paying for things you no longer need any more.
11. Take Advantage of Freebies – If you are already spending money why not take advantage of the things you can get for free from it? If you are already buying that box of cereal and it's on a Buy 1 Get 1 Free sale would you pass up the 2nd one that would be free? Same concept, don't pay for that appetizer when you eat out when you can get it free for signing up for their newsletter, don't pass up free gas rewards from the grocery store you shop at, don't pass up the free shampoo samples etc.
12. Track Your Spending – Use free sites like Mint.com and see where your money is going so you know where your budget leaks are.
13. Research Big Ticket Items Before Buying – Always do your research on reviews and prices before buying big ticket items, for some people, this means anything over $100 for others that means over $1,000. You need to figure out what a big ticket item is for you and then anything over that point do your research before both reviews and price comparison.
14. Switch Credit Cards – If you are working on paying down credit card debt consider switching cards to one that will offer you 0% interest for a certain time frame when switching a balance over, sometimes it's for the first year. This will save you $100 or more a year depending on the balance you're transferring. This also buys you time to pay it off without collecting anymore interest.
15. Review Account Statements and Bills – Make it a point to do a monthly review of your checking and savings accounts and your bills. Look for charges that might not be yours, showing your card number has been stolen. Watch for double charges, hidden fees etc. As far your bills make sure you aren't being charged for something you don't use (like a movie channel) and make sure you bills aren't fluctuating from one month to the other. I saw my internet bill went up by $10 because they added a new feature. I didn't want the feature they took it off and my bill went back down. They can be sneaky so pay attention!
16. Study Up on Finances – Read up on budgeting, ways to save and ways to pay off debt. Check out my Top Money Saving Books Everyone Should Read post.
17. Review the Past 3 Months of Expenses – Sit down and review the past 3 months of expenses. This will give you a solid idea of what to set your budget at and where your money leaks are.
18. Ditch Disposable Items – Buying disposable items over and over can really kill your budget! Disposable plates and silverware are not needed they cost more than washing them! Switch to using rags instead of paper towels. You can stop using pads and tampons and use cloth. Learn more about switching to cloth pads. Some even go as far as to use washable toilet cloth….. That may not be your comfort level but it's a possibility. Of course there is always the cloth diaper. Find out to Save Money on Cloth Daipers and How to Get Started with Cloth Diapers. Still not convinced? Check out 7 Reasons to Concider Cloth Diapers.
19. 30 Day Rule – Instill the 30-day rule when making purchases that are not grocery related. Read up on the 30 Day Rule.
20. Bring in Extra Income – The best way to help your budget, of course, is to bring in some extra income. That doesn't always have to mean going and getting a 2nd job. I did a series on 52 Ways to Earn Free Money for Christmas, most of which can be done online in your spare time!
21. Create An Emergency Fund – This is a must, this way when an emergency pops up you aren't putting yourself back into debt to handle it. Also, notice I said WHEN not IF because something WILL come up. Put aside what you can, $20 a month is better than nothing.
22. Volunteer – If you have free time, volunteer to some of your favorite causes. This fills your free time so you are less likely to go spend money because you are bored. You get to meet new people and do something good.
23. Make a Fun Fund – When planning your budget do not forget the fun fund! This is a little bit of money you can spend or save up for fun things. Going out seeing a movie, lunch or drinks with friends etc. You are much more likely to stick to your budget if you are still allowed to go out and do fun things too.
24. Make Sure Your Budget is Flexible – Your income can change each month as should your budget. What if you have family come into town you will need a slightly larger grocery budget. Friends Bachelorette party? You need entertainment and drinking money. Make sure you can include the car repairs that are not monthly or random work costs.
25. Nobody's Perfect – Remember nobody is perfect so give yourself some grace. Your budget isn't going to fall right into place the first month and there will be some months you miss your goals. It happens. Pick yourself up and do better the following month.
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