New Year's resolutions are an annual rite of passage at this time of year, but making those promises is only the beginning. If you want to truly improve your situation in the year to come, you need to be realistic with your promises.
It does not matter what those annual promises are - if you cannot stick with them, your situation will not improve, and things could actually get worse. The dieter who vows to eat nothing but salads will surely be tripped up by the first chocolate chip cookie, and the saver who plans to go from zero savings to thousands will face the same challenge.
If you want your financial resolutions to be successful, it pays to start small and ramp up your efforts. Here are 10 money-saving financial resolutions you will actually be able to keep.
1. Negotiate with your creditors. If you can pick up a phone, you can keep this financial resolution. You have more negotiating power than you think, and lowering your interest rates and monthly payments could save you a bundle in the coming year.
2. Learn to cook.
If there is one skill that can improve your health and your finances, it is cooking. You do not have to become a master chef, but finding your way around the kitchen
will help you cut back on costly convenience items and unhealthy fast food.
3. Turn off the lights. If you want to slash your electricity costs, make switching the lights off a habit. Turn the lights off every time you leave a room - and pocket the savings.
4. Invest in a programmable thermostat. You can save even more by replacing your traditional thermostat with a programmable model. The upfront cost should be more than offset by the monthly savings.
5. Change your filters. From the air filter in your car to the HVAC filter in your heating and cooling system, you can improve efficiency and slash costs with one simple change.
6. Shop smart at the grocery store - and everywhere else.
Keep a price list of grocery items, comparison shop at the department store and sign up for money-saving offers every chance you get. Buy in bulk
and vacuum seal
your food into family meal sizes. These simple actions will improve your finances without impacting your life.
7. Use a cooling off period for your purchases. Before you reach for your credit card or click buy at an online store, take a few minutes to review the planned purchase. If you can do without it, you probably do not need it.
8. Shop in your closet. Instead of shopping for new clothes, reuse and repurpose the pieces you already own. Use your imagination and give your existing wardrobe a new lease on life.
9. Barter for services. Instead of paying cash for things like babysitting and lawn mowing, use the barter system and offer your own skills in exchange. You will save a ton of cash - and make some new friends.
10. Seek out free fun.
From admission-free days at the museum to picnics in the park, there are lots of free ways to keep yourself and your family members entertained. Seek out these free events - you will save a lot of money and discover lots of fun new activities
Financial resolutions are among the hardest to keep, but it does not have to be that way. If you keep your annual promises realistic and start small, you can improve your financial standing in the year to come. The 10 money-saving strategies listed above can help you get started, so you can begin the new year with promises kept.