There’s a way to set goals that will pay dividends, and that’s making sure your financial profile is in shape. By putting your ambitions down on paper, you’re helping to hold yourself accountable for spending wisely. Mental Floss and Discover put together this list of ways to modify your habits and keep more money in your pocket in 2019.
Pledge to save a little each week.
Expenses can often make it difficult to think about saving. If saving hundreds of dollars monthly is too daunting, commit to setting a little bit aside a week—it will eventually add up. Many banks will even set up an automatic fund transfer so money is deposited into a savings account without you even having to think about it. Even if you start by saving $20 a week that will eventually add up to over $1K in savings by the end of the year.
Settle on a budget.
You may think that you spend what you have to in order to cover the cost of living and that itemizing your spending is a waste of time. But reconciling your bank statements or going over your purchase history can offer big clues on where money might be falling through the cracks. Are you buying items you don’t need and not returning them? Are you spending too much on lunches? Odds are that a close examination of your expenses and then creating a ceiling for certain expenditures—like internet, clothing, or dining out—will reveal areas where you can trim your spending.
Start contributing to your 401(k).
Money that might not be beneficial to you for years isn’t always the most exciting expenditure, but failing to take advantage of your company’s retirement benefits is like leaving free money on the table. Employers are often willing to match money set aside for your later years by up to 50 percent. If you can tag up to 6 percent of your annual salary for your 401(k), that’s like getting an extra 3 percent of your paycheck—and it adds up.
Build up an emergency fund.
Money set aside for a rainy day is different from a savings or retirement fund, or a cache for non-emergency necessities (like a replacement for a broken coffeemaker). You should also have money set aside for true emergencies, like when your home or car is in need of repair or you’re between jobs. Ideally, an emergency fund should cover several months’ worth of expenses if you’re unemployed, but even a few hundred dollars will come in handy when it’s time to call a plumber or replace that coffeemaker.
Tackle a side job.
You may find that your current job doesn’t allow you to achieve all of your financial goals. If you could use an extra few hundred dollars a month, consider tackling a part-time job that might see you working a few nights or weekends—anything from becoming a fitness instructor to crafts work can give you a boost in your monthly income without interfering with your full-time obligations.
Create a mini-goal.
Sometimes financial ambitions can seem too overwhelming to address all at once. You might need major home repairs, for example, or want to plan an expensive purchase like a new living room set. Instead of thinking it’s too big to bother with, set a mini-goal. For a home repair, you might want to consider replacing half of your windows instead of all of them. For a big vacation, it might mean saving for airfare this year and lodging the next. By breaking down bigger objectives into smaller achievements, you’ll keep taking steps toward the finish line.
Making financial promises that are reasonable and attainable is a great first step towards greater financial independence and control, but you don’t have to do it all on your own. Discover is committed to helping people spend smarter, manage debt better, and save more so they can achieve a brighter financial future. Learn more at Discover.