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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, when the holiday festivities are over, the dust has settled and life is back to normal.
However, with a little determination and consistency, resolutions can help you save $1,000 or much more.
1. Implement a new shopping strategy
If you do a lot of your shopping online, you’re probably leaving 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 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 savings of $400.
Total annual savings: $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, only 32 percent of Americans prepare a monthly budget that tracks their income and expenses, according to a Gallup poll. That leaves 68 percent of consumers who may have no real way to assess their finances and incorporate more responsible spending habits. That’s crazy, especially since tracking expenses is now so easy to do.
One possible outcome of not keeping track is overdraft fees. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that consumers who have at least one overdraft a year average $225 a year in overdraft fees. The average overdraft fee is more than $30.
Total annual savings: $225.
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.
Owe $2,800 on your card and have an 18 percent interest rate? Credit card calculators will tell you that if you make only the minimum payment, $56, or 2 percent, 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. See “The Best Way to Pay Off Debt.”
Total savings: $6,500.
4. Plan your meals
When making the grocery list for the week, plan your meals around the 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 to save at least $20 per week.
Total annual savings: $1,040.
5. Reduce budget busters
The little luxuries may seem inexpensive and worthwhile, but they add up rather 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. On the other hand, if you cut out that $55 monthly gym membership and seek free alternatives, you can save up to $660.
Total annual savings: $1,128.
6. Scrap the loyalty
Switching to a less expensive insurance company can save you money, so it’s definitely worth looking into. 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. See Year-End Review: 10 Tips to Cut Car Insurance Costs.
Total annual savings: $100 to $300.