By Charis Rebecca Brown, clarkhoward.com
From cable bills to everyday spending habits, these 21 tips will help you save more, spend less, and help you have a sunnier 2016 when it comes to finances.
21 ways to save more in 2016
1. Set goals.
You might think that first on our list should be the infamous New Year’s resolutions we’ve become so accustomed to year after year. But since New Year’s resolutions tend to flop by January 30 each year, goal setting is a much better option!
Setting goals is a habit for people who win with money, and it should become a habit for you too. Studies have shown that just by having a goal for something it brings you closer to that goal versus not having any goal at all.
An important part of this equation is making sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time oriented. Once you have a goal or goals in mind that include all of these attributes, chop your goal into smaller pieces, or milestones, that you can hit more easily. Once you hit each milestone, celebrate! This will help to encourage you as you move forward toward your financial goals.
Also, write down your financial goals, and put them in an obvious place so you see them often – such as on the refrigerator or next to a door you walk through frequently.
It’s hard to tell where you’re headed if you haven’t mapped out where you are! The word “budget” may illicit strong feelings of “lack,” “constraint,” or be the antithesis of “fun,” but budgeting isn’t as scary or as difficult as it sounds. Budgeting, simply put, is telling your money where you want it to go.
2. Negotiate prices.
Did you know that you can negotiate in almost any kind of purchasing situation?
Though you might have previously thought negotiation was only for the bigger purchases such as home buying or car shopping, you can also negotiate at retail stores and online too. You can even negotiate to lower your bills!
3. Slash excess spending.
Every so often, it’s a good idea to track your purchasing history to see where your money is going. An easy way to do this is by using budget apps like Mint.com or BillGuard.com. Then, once you see where your money is going, you can make adjustments where necessary. Do you really need to buy that new iPhone or Android device ever time a new one comes out?
You might even want to try a 30 day household financial cleanse to jump start your savings.
4. Cut monthly bills.
Monthly expenses can bite us if we aren’t careful. Cable is no exception! With the average cable bill being about $99.10, according to Liechtman Research Group, cable and other monthly expenses can really add up over time.
To cut your monthly bills, check out this guide.
5. Switch up your grocery routine.
There is no doubt that spending in the grocery category of your budget can vary a TON from household to household. I’ve read about people who spend anywhere from $70 to $1,500 – for just two adults.
But the good news is, even if you have trouble spending in the grocery category, this is one place where you can save a ton! It just requires a little extra time, a few sacrifices, and some practice.
If you’re new to saving-friendly grocery shopping, be sure to consider Aldi as a lower cost option. Also, you’ll want to avoid these 18 foods that can put a massive dent in your grocery bill, and be sure to check out these 7 ways you can save the most money on your groceries.
6. Transfer debt to a lower interest credit card.
If you have credit card debt, doing a $0 balance transfer might be a big way to save. However — you’ll want to be careful: If you don’t allow yourself enough time to pay off the card before the interest offer expires, you could be hit with even bigger interest fees than what you are paying now.
7. Be picky about your savings account.
Picking the right savings account is essential in order to make sure you can save the most and earn the most while your money is being tucked aside for a rainy day.
Online savings accounts such as Ally.com and Capital One 360 are fee-free and have online savings account options that allow you to earn 1% or .75% on your money, respectively. But, there are many types of savings accounts you can choose from. Be sure to pick one that aligns the best with your needs.
8. Use lower cost financial trading apps.
Instead of paying big fees on trading, did you know you can spend little to nothing on trading?
Apps like Acorns, Robin Hood and Stash make it even easier to trade!
9. Invest under the right tax shelter.
How you save for retirement makes a BIG difference in how much you’ll earn over the course of your working years. Be sure to follow Clark’s Investment Guide to save the most for retirement!
In addition, save even more as you invest by using a fee-only financial planner.
9. Switch your car.
The average American spends $479 a month on a new auto payment, according to Edmunds.com.
That’s a hefty price to pay, especially considering just how much money this eats up over time — not to mention the opportunity cost of not having this money freed up to save for retirement and take advantage of compound interest!
If your car payment is more than 10-15% of your monthly income, you might want to switch your car for something with a lower monthly payment, or opt to pay for something less expensive with cash.
10. Always shop sales – NEVER PAY FULL PRICE. Seriously.
The key to this advice is to make sure it’s something you already need – versus buying something just because it’s on sale.
Check out these 10 websites that can help you get the very best deal on all your purchases!
11. Make alternative choices.
Go out for dinner and a movie or cook at home with Redbox? Buy a brand new car or buy a reliable used car? Simple alternatives can make a big difference when it comes to saving.
13. Switch your wireless provider.
Has it been a while since you switched your cell phone provider? If so, you might be missing out on big savings!
Check out this guide of the best cell phone providers and where to get the best deal.
14. Buy prescriptions (at a cheaper price) at a different location or online.
Highly rated apps like GoodRx can help.
15. Learn to save money when eating out or brown bag your lunch.
Even if you do decide to eat out, there are ways to significantly reduce your dining bill while still enjoying the experience.
But, if you really want to cut your eating out expenses, opt to brown bag your lunch instead.
16. Use an automated savings plan.
If you use direct deposit, many employers can set up a percentage or dollar amount every paycheck to go directly into a savings account of your choice. As long as you keep a certain minimum or do a direct deposit of a certain amount, most bank savings accounts should be fee-free. You can also use the fee-free online savings banks such as Ally.com and Capital One 360 listed above.
Saving money before it hits your checking account is a brilliant way to save: pain-free and worry-free. Make technology work for you and watch your savings grow effortlessly! Here’s more on why and how to automate your savings.
17. Reduce your energy costs
Using a programmable thermostat, turning your water heater down (since it’s probably higher than it needs to be) and replacing your lightbulbs with energy efficient bulbs are easy ways to cut your home energy costs every month. By reducing your expenses, you’re left with more money to save!
18. Join a warehouse club
Joining a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club can save you hundreds on food and other staples over the course of a year. And with so many discounted prices, you make up the cost of your membership pretty quickly. Check out these 9 items that will single-handedly pay for your Costco membership.
19. Re-shop your car insurance
If you haven’t re-shopped your car insurance in a while, now is the time to do it! You could be missing out on savings you didn’t even know about.
Also, according to Consumer Reports, even if you shop around and find that your coverage is still the least expensive, there may be ways to save within your policy. “Depending on where you live, raising a deductible to $1,000 from zero could reduce your collision deductible by as much as 47%,” according to CR. And here’s one other important note from CR: “Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive when the annual premium for that portion of that coverage exceeds 10% of your car’s book value.”
20. Buy a coffee machine
A splurge here and there is no big deal, but when you’re buying coffee every day — or every weekday — it can really start to add up! Your daily coffee habit could actually be costing you anywhere from $500 to $600 a year, and that’s a lot of money that could be saved.
Depending on how fancy you want to get, you can purchase a quality coffee maker on Amazon for anywhere between $15 and $50.
21. Track your spending
Tracking your expenses is the best way to get control of your money.
For a few reasons. First, if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck, you have to know where your money is going and you have to give every dollar a purpose. Tracking how much money is coming in versus how much is going out — and where exactly it’s all going — is the key in making smart financial decisions that have a big impact on both your life now and your future.
If you don’t pay attention, it becomes very difficult to make sure that you’re adequately prepared for each of your big goals — including retirement savings and even shorter-term goals, like buying a house and building an emergency savings fund.
Utilizing your smartphone to help you save can be a big help in tracking – and saving your money. If you want to keep it simple, the old fashioned envelope system works just as well — taking out specific amounts of cash to cover certain monthly expenses.
For more information follow this link, clarkhoward.com