New Year’s resolutions are a mixed bag: Some are easy to achieve, but most are doomed to fail from the very first day of January. This year, resolve to get your finances in order by tackling one of the below money-related goals—and see things through by following a few simple tips.
1. GET A RAISE.
Sure, that’s far easier said than done, but it’s actually something most people don’t actively seek on their own, instead waiting for their corporate superiors to make the first move with a performance review. Consider it a New Year’s resolution to earn more money through a pay increase, either by developing new skills or taking on new responsibilities.
2. CUT UP YOUR DEBIT CARD.
It might sound extreme, but consider getting rid of your debit card, or at least only carrying it in your wallet when you are traveling. By removing ATMs from the equation, you’ll have to work harder to get cash to spend. Plus, with banks only open during work hours, you’ll surely make fewer rash, late-night spending decisions.
3. HOME-BREW YOUR MORNING COFFEE.
The daily expenditure of buying, say, two cups of coffee adds up. In fact, at $1.85 per cup, that’s roughly $1350 out of your pocket each year. Brewing your own coffee at home, which costs roughly a quarter a cup, will save you a whopping $1170! That’s the value of a nice vacation, and you aren’t even cutting out caffeine!
4. ADOPT A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE.
If you’ve spent year after year resolving to “get healthy,” maybe you’ll be more apt to keep it if you knew such a lifestyle could save you money. In the long run, being healthier means fewer doctor appointment copays, prescription fees, and costly treatments.
5. TRACK YOUR NET WORTH REGULARLY.
Net worth—the combination of your accumulated assets and debts over your lifetime—is the single most important financial metric one can record. More than your salary or monthly budget, this easy-to-track number shows you your progress, or digression, in a very tangible way. By keeping an eye on this figure, it will no doubt inspire you to do whatever you can to keep it ticking in the upward direction.
6. PLAN OUT YOUR MEALS.
Every Sunday, make it a ritual to plan out your meals for the week. In doing so, you’ll create a very clear shopping list that avoids waste and mid-week impulse purchases at the nearby convenience store. Better yet, select meals that use in-season produce to save a few extra dollars every week.
7. TRY CUTTING AN EXPENSE YOU NEVER CONSIDERED BEFORE.
If you never considered living without cable television or resisting the urge to hail a cab, try going three months without. You might be surprised at how little you really needed it—or impressed enough at how much you saved that you’ll be inspired to cut the expense permanently.
8. PAY YOURSELF FIRST.
This might very well be considered the most vital rule in personal finance. You most likely already prioritize monthly bills like rent, cell phone payments, and utilities, so make a point of adding yourself to the mix. With every paycheck, set aside a specific amount of money to “pay” to your savings account, to your retirement fund, and to bigger expenditures, like a new TV. This way, you’re never making excuses for why you’ll skip a payment, just as you wouldn’t with your internet provider.
9. SEARCH FOR A “HACK” BEFORE SPENDING MONEY ON A FIX.
Tempted to dip into your savings account to remove the dent in your car door? Try a little dry ice first. About to buy expensive night cream or overpriced laundry detergent? You might not know it, but you can find do-it-yourself recipes for both those products that work as well as the name-brand variety. The lesson: Always research cost-effective ways to do even the most basic tasks, and you’ll likely find some clever alternatives.