Money Tips to Save More and Spend Less in the New Year
Around this time every year, countless people spend time pondering and planning goals and resolutions for the upcoming year. Whether your new year’s resolutions are big or small, improving your personal finances can probably help you reach them. A foundational piece to improving your finances is learning how to save more and spend less. Read this article to learn about some of our Community Education Team’s favorite money tips to try in the new year.
How to Spend Less
Sticking to a budgeting plan and spending less is one of the top behaviors that can help you reach your financial goals. While there are a variety of strategies that can help you stretch your budget, here are a few tips that can help you spend less on everyday purchases without having to drastically alter your lifestyle.
Use Food Apps
Many popular restaurants and eateries now have their own app in which you can place an order, earn rewards or discounts and further engage with the company. While it may seem a bit excessive to download an app for every restaurant you eat at, it can be worth your while to download apps for your most frequently visited restaurants.
These apps can be a great way to find out about discounts and promotions that can help you save on meals or get free additions to your order. Many of these apps also have loyalty and rewards systems built-in, so you could potentially earn free items for things you’re already doing.
Some of our Community Education Team’s favorites include:
- Starbucks - Users earn free food or drink items for stars earned ($1 equals 1 star) and a free birthday item. Other bonus features include ordering ahead, free in-store refills and pay-by-phone.
- Chick-Fil-A - Users can skip the line, order ahead and earn points toward free meals, which are rewarded based on purchase history to match the user’s preferences.
- Dominos - Earn a free medium two-topping pizza after six orders of $10 or more.
- Taco Bell - Offers members early access to new menu items, exclusive discounts, special offers, and reward points with each purchase.
Pre-load a Starbucks gift card within the app and earn 2 stars for each $1.
Use Coupon Browser Extensions
It’s becoming increasingly important to find ways to save money on your online purchases. While the number of online offerings continues to expand, so do the opportunities to find ways to be a thrifty online shopper.
There are many new browser extensions (programs that add a new feature to your web browser) that can help you spend less while you shop online, here are a few worth looking at:
- Honey - Honey is a free browser extension that searches the web for discount codes and coupons. The extension automatically applies the highest discount code or coupon it can find to your cart to save you money.
- Rakuten - Rakuten is a free browser extension that allows you to shop on their platform to look for deals and earn cash back.
- CamelCamelCamel - CamelCamelCamel is a free browser extension that can come in handy for frequent Amazon shoppers. This extension can help you by showing the price history of an item and notifying you of price drops so you can buy it at a discount.
Use Online Grocery Shopping and Pick-Up
Many grocery stores now have the option for online shopping and curbside pick-up. This money tip can help preserve your grocery budget by preventing impulse purchases from browsing the aisles. Online grocery shopping also has the benefit of being able to more easily compare prices and find the cheapest version of a product. You can filter results to find discounted items and some grocers will automatically apply coupons for you as well.
Fill Out Surveys on Receipts
Many of us probably don’t pay much attention to our receipts. However, the next time you get one, you may want to think twice before tossing it out right away. Many retailers have links or QR codes on receipts that allow the customer to fill out a survey in exchange for discounts, deals or free products with their next purchase. Retailers place a high value on customer feedback, and you can use your feedback to save money.
How to Save More
Spending less is a good financial habit and will free up money in your budget, but what do you do with that extra money? Finding ways to save more can help you focus and reach your financial goals more quickly. Here are a few more tips from our Community Education Team to help you boost your savings.
Automate Your Money
Automating your cash flows can help you stay on top of your financial goals and obligations. Setting up automatic transfers can help take the hassle out of paying your bills on time, which is important for maintaining a good credit history and can help prevent late fees.
Setting up automatic transfers to your savings and investing accounts will ensure that you’re making incremental progress towards your goals. You can schedule these transfers after you get paid (if it comes in at regular intervals) so you pay yourself first. In the case of investing, automatic contributions will allow you to dollar cost average and prevent you from falling into the trap of trying to time the market.
While automation can be a powerful tool for your finances, it’s important to remember to not get complacent. You should still be monitoring your accounts and tracking your budget. It’s important to know when money is being withdrawn so you can make sure there are sufficient funds in your checking account and that you don’t incur overdraft fees.
Set Up Savings Accounts for Each Goal
Many people have a variety of financial goals or things they are saving for. They may be big or small, short or long-term. Setting up different accounts for each goal is an easy way to help you towards your savings goals.
Many financial institutions also allow you to create a name for the accounts. For example, you might name one account “summer vacation,” while another account is called “house down payment.” This helps you establish an emotional connection to the savings goal and can make saving for the goal easier or more enjoyable.
Having separate accounts for different purposes and goals also makes it easier to track your progress. You can clearly see how close you are to reaching the goal. This also has the added benefit of preventing you from accidentally dipping into your savings for other purposes.
The start of a new year can be a great time to try new things and start good money habits. It’s important to remember it’s okay to start small, keep working towards your financial goals. Use these money tips as a starting point to spend less and save more.