The new year is just around the corner, making it the perfect time to make a resolution to save more money. These five tips will help you trim spending, beef up savings, and reduce stress.
1. Pay it off
Make paying off your credit cards a priority. Let’s say you have a $2,000 balance at 18% interest. If your minimum payment is 2% of the balance due each month ($40), it will take you 19 years to pay it off and you’ll incur $3,862 in interest! But if you increase your monthly payments to 8% of the balance due–much more than the minimum–you’ll reduce the payback time from 19 years to three years and nine months, and your interest costs now are only $433. You’ve just “saved” $3,429.
2. Conserve energy
Small changes mean big savings on your utility bill. Try these things to save money each month:
- Properly insulate all ducts.
- Use programmable thermostats.
- Turn your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours each day during the winter to save as much as 10% a year on your energy bill.
- Use ceiling fans to reduce both cooling and heating bills.
3. Check the little things
Grab a calculator. Add up what you spend on so-called “little things” to find savings you may not have noticed.
- Buying drinks: only $1.00 a day on soda adds up to $365 a year.
- Morning coffee: $2.75 a day on coffee is $1,003.75 a year.
- Eating out: Spending just $6 every weekday on fast food adds up to $1,560 for the year.
4. Look at your car
Regular automobile maintenance–including low-cost oil changes, filter changes, and tire rotation–can save big bucks by preventing costly repairs. Keep your engine tuned and your tires inflated to their proper pressure. On the road, stay within speed limits–gas mileage decreases when you drive faster than 60 MPH. Avoid “jackrabbit” starts, unnecessary idling, or keeping excess weight in the trunk. Think about combining errands to save on gas.
5. Think savings first
Pay your savings first by setting up automatic transfers to your share or money market account from your auto paycheck deposits. Consider using direct bill payment from your account for recurring payments like household bills, insurance premiums, automatic investment and savings plans, mortgage payments, auto loan payments, and charitable donations to help manage your finances. Participate in your employer’s tax-advantaged retirement plan–many employers match your contributions to a certain amount, growing your savings even faster.