10 New Year’s Resolutions That Will Save You Thousands

Making a few small changes to your money habits can pay big dividends throughout 2016. Here are 10 New Year’s resolutions that will help you rake in the cash.

Whether it’s responsible money management, weight loss or a healthier lifestyle, New Year’s resolutions usually become a thing of the past by February.

Once the holiday festivities are over, the dust has settled and life is back to normal, resolutions typically fade away. However, with a little determination and consistency, you can stick to your goals — and grow richer in the process.

Following are 10 resolutions that can help you save as much as $1,000 — or even much more.

1. Implement a new shopping strategy

If you do a lot of shopping online, it’s possible you are leaving plenty of money on the table.

For example, in “How to Save at Least 10 Percent on Everything You Buy,” we explain how combining discounted gift cards, rebate sites and reward credit cards can save you cash on every purchase. Shop a lot at Amazon? Check out “10 Secret Strategies to Save Big Bucks at Amazon.”

At the minimum, resolve to always comparison shop for savings. And use the calendar as leverage. Certain categories of goods go on sale at various times of the year. For example, if you typically spend $1,000 on winter clothing, shopping after-Christmas and February closeouts could save you 40 percent. That means a savings of $400.

2. Develop a spending plan

If created and implemented correctly, a budget will reveal weak areas and force you to live within your means. However, just 32 percent of Americans prepare a monthly budget that tracks their income and expenses, according to a 2013 Gallup poll.

That leaves 68 percent of consumers who may have no real way to assess their finances and implement more responsible spending habits. That’s crazy, especially since tracking expenses is now so easy to do.

3. Get out of debt

About half the families that have credit cards carry a balance. Your statement now tells you how long it will take to pay off that debt if you make only the minimum payment each month.

For example, if you owe $2,800 on your card and have an 18 percent interest rate, making only the minimum payment — $56, or 2 percent — means it will take you nearly 30 years to pay that off the card. Along the way, you’ll pay nearly $6,800 in interest.

Don’t fall victim to this trap. Instead, develop a debt-management plan that can use funds from your budget. You can pay off that debt in a year with a monthly payment of $250 and pay only $288 in interest. That’s a savings of roughly $6,500.

For more, see “The Best Way to Pay Off Debt.”

4. Plan your meals

When making the grocery list for the week, plan your meals around sales and corresponding coupons that are available. Since couponing can be very time-consuming, you can also try eliminating a few items from your list or substituting generics.

Combine these methods to save at least $20 per week, and you’ll be $1,040 richer at the end of 2016.

5. Reduce budget busters

Little luxuries may seem inexpensive, but they add up quickly. Try cutting variable expenses, such as coffee drinks, smoking, gym memberships and cable TV. Shaving down your $3 caffeinated beverage from five to two cups per week can save you up to $468 per year.

6. Compare insurance quotes

Even if you have been with one car insurance company for years, use online comparison tools and shop around to find the most competitive rate.

7. Load up the rainy-day fund

Failing to have a sufficient emergency fund in place is the easiest way to enter and remain into and remain in debt.

To put things into perspective, if you charge $600 for a set of new tires to a credit card with an interest rate of 16.9 percent and a minimum payment of $20 per month, you will end up paying $186 in interest over the course of three years.

8. Adopt a healthier lifestyle

Not only is an active and healthier lifestyle beneficial to your well-being, but it also helps your pocketbook. A healthier you is less likely to need prescribed medications, physician visits and treatments.

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  • ManoaHi

    None of these affect me much. I don’t keep a budget but because I don’t have any debt (mortgages – multiple, were done in my 40s about a decade ago – no credit card debt), I have a rainy day fund to replace two of my cars with new ones (I only pay cash for cars, after graduating college I never had a car loan) so 1-7 and 10 are not applicable as they would not save me anyting. 8 and 9, possibly but that would be less fun.

    • I see why 2, 3, 7, and 10 do not apply to you, but why not 1 and 4-6?

      • ManoaHi

        1. Because, where I live (Hawaii), with Amazon is by far the cheapest and I am a Prime Member (also I use Smile – to help my favorite charity). Typical shipping for the same item if available on Amazon Prime, I get killed on shipping and for small purchases, if I go elsewhere, I more often get shipping charges that are higher than the item itself. I had one order, luckily I was able to cancel, it was $32 for the item and $44 for shipping, same item on Amazon was $35, but no shipping charges. This is so common that Amazon comes out cheaper than most other sites. Often times, even sale items are still cheaper via Amazon, because shipping outweighs, by far, any savings. “Free Shipping” doesn’t apply to me, nearly every “Free Shipping” only applies to the contiguous 48 states. OK, I could move to one of those contiguous states, but just to save on shipping? Thus, #1 doesn’t apply.

        4. Coupons are time consuming because they only come on Wednesdays and Sundays and often there are full on cheaper stores that come out better than any store with coupons. So, sure I could save $0.50 on an item that is $2.75 but at another store that same item is regular priced at $1.99. Our excise tax is 4.712% so 50 cents off on $2.75 with tax comes out $2.45 vs. the same item regular at $1.99 with tax is $2.08, so going to different store saves me 37 cents instead of coupons. I haven’t found anything that a coupon helps on, and I did try but I’ve always found it doesn’t help. Sometimes the coupon is on something that I don’t want nor need. I also have found that some generics don’t give the same taste results as the brand named item. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, so I probably save about $5.00 per month. So, OK, I can just live with worst tasting food, but why? Thus, #4 doesn’t work and thus doesn’t apply.

        5. Sort of a corollary to #9. OTA doesn’t work well with our location, I’m missing some of the network channels. But then again I could cut out TV completely, but then it wouldn’t be as much fun. I suppose I could save more money if I cut down on my reading, but again it won’t be as entertaining. But I also have a $10.00 cup that gives me “free” refills at no money for the life of the cup. I got that several years go, and do go about 2 – 3 times per day, so I’ve gone well over a 1,000 times and thus each drink costs me less than 1 cent of amortizing the initial cost of the cup. If I don’t go, it doesn’t matter, the original cup price doesn’t change, so cutting down won’t save me any money. Technically if I cut back, I lose more if I go less often as the amortization keeps getting lower and lower if I go. Then again, as I have no mortgages, no car loans, no credit card debt (no debt of any monetary form), I have savings, add in stocks and bonds, retirement is funded, there is no reason to avoid “little luxuries”. The biggest savings, if I needed to save more money would be to cut back on charities. Thus, this doesn’t apply.

        6. I have done that already, and I have auto coverage with cheapest. But it doesn’t really apply because I didn’t start with my insurance company based on price, I got it on convenience, but it just happens to be the cheapest. Serendipity.

  • smokefree1988

    Number 8 above should have been given specific mention to give up smoking tobacco products as it the author did in number 9 – Cut the booze – doing that will save you a ton of money (in NYC more than other venues) and may even save your life and loved ones around the person who still smokes.

  • Y2KJillian

    Over the holidays we realized that while to us, our frugal, money-saving lifestyle is to be celebrated, to my family, we look like the poor relations you cringe to see, because we drive a 20-year old car, wear old (although clean) clothing, and don’t have fancy jewelry, watches, haircuts, fingernail art, or any fancy i-pods, phones, or other gadgets. We have a paid-off though modest house, two older paid off cars, we have no debts…but we have no fancy new gizmos, either. We think our priorities are perfect…they think we’re pathetic. Kinda sad for somebody, but I’m not sure who.

    • Patrick Seitz

      It’s none of my business, but if you don’t mind sharing, how did you come to learn that your family does not celebrate your frugal lifestyle? I ask because I just read a book that was recommended on the comment section of this website, called The Millionaire Next Door. A lot of it was about interaction between frugal people who had a lot of money saved/invested, versus people who bought expensive things but didn’t have any money saved/invested because of their lavish lifestyles.

  • aizen330i

    Adopt a healthy lifestyle but drop stop going to the gym? Gyms can go as low as 20 not 55

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