Another year, another set of New Year’s resolutions, but how many have you actually stuck to?
Everyone always finds it quite difficult to stick to the eating and diet resolutions, but find it more manageable to meet their financial goals. The best way to start is to set shorter-term goals, and then focus on them one at a time.
The point is simple: Instead of trying to attempt all of your resolutions at once, write a list, pick one off the list at a time and over the course of the year you will find that you will start to tick them off. Here are 11 actually-attainable resolutions to consider for 2017:
1. Buy less coffee. And instead of setting the goal of "cutting down" or "buying less," make it quantifiable. If you currently buy five cups of coffee a week, cut yourself down to one a week as a treat. If your coffee is $4.00, you've gone from spending $28 a week to only spending $4 a week. (For the month, if you bought one coffee a week instead of five, you'd spend $16 on coffee as opposed to $112.)
2. Walk more. If you spend a lot on cabs, Ubers, or fuel for your own car, the solution might be to cut the short driving trips out of your life. Of course, if you have a long commute to work, you might not want to substitute that with a walk. However, if you're in the habit of driving up the road to a friend's house, or to your favourite bakery, this could be where you forego the car/cab trip and talk a walk instead.
3. Up your savings game by $200-$400 a month (depending on your salary). Doing a trial period of this for three months is ideal, because it will force you to see what your budget would be like if you were short $200-$400. Ideally, you'll realize that when you automate the payment, you don't miss that money at all. If all goes well, you can keep your higher savings rate all year.
4. Shop less, but buy better quality goods. Again, this needs to be quantifiable. For an allotted amount of time, try cutting fast fashion brands and boredom shopping completely out of your life. With the money you save from not buying a new work outfit here and there, you might find that you're able to afford a better-quality, more lasting piece of clothing.
5. Reduce the amount of drinks you buy out. As we all know, there is an astronomical mark-up on alcohol, so by going that one less drink when you are out at dinner can save you – even when you don’t notice. Winter is the perfect time for a three-month test run, because you're already less motivated to go out.
6. Make a plan to pay off your credit card debt. The plan, of course, will depend on the amount you bring in compared to the amount of debt you have. What will help the most is setting a specific time frame; if you can push yourself to pay off your credit card debt in four months, for example, that will give you the amount you need to pay toward it every month.
7. Try a takeaway-free month. It's pretty self-explanatory; challenge yourself to not order any takeaway or delivery. If you order $30 worth of takeout/delivery a week, that's $120 worth of savings in one month.
8. Resolve to only use a reusable water bottle. Eliminate bottled water from your budget. Because buying a bottle of water costs anywhere from $2 to $5, it doesn't ever seem like it's adding up. But again, if you buy one three times a week before a yoga class, that's $6 to $15 a week ($24 to $60 a month!) you could easily save if you kept a reusable water bottle with you.
9. Develop an organizational system for your finances that you can actually stick to. This should take one month out of your year, and if it is effective, it will provide some ease for the other 11 months of your year. What's more important than implementing a filing system that involves a label maker and seven different coloured highlighters is finding a system that works for you.
10. Try the splurge-to-save method. This goes together with buying better quality, but shopping less frequently. For a long time, I bought the best-value option on instinct. And while sometimes that really is the best route, sometimes spending more upfront allows the product (whether it's a pair of nice boots, or a set of pots and pans) to last longer. Before you buy, do some research to find the best-quality version, and check the reviews to see how long it lasts. You might find that the more expensive option is the better long-term investment.
11. Take care of your health. This is more of a year-long goal, as opposed to something to only focus on for a month. If you are the kind of person that "saves money" by not going to the dentist, expect a miracle when you do go. Preventative care is almost always less expensive than trying to fix the issue after the fact. (And it goes without saying that it is also much better for your health.)
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