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.
9. Cut the booze
There’s nothing wrong with an occasional night out with the guys or gals, but beware of the bar. Consuming alcoholic beverages in public venues can be quite costly, particularly if you go when it’s not happy hour. And let’s not even consider what getting a DUI could cost you.
OK, let’s consider it after all: Up to $15,000 or more.
10. Renegotiate your debts
Call around to each of your creditors and attempt to have your interest rates lowered.
And how about refinancing your home? The savings from refinancing a $250,000 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with a 5.5 percent interest rate will vary depending on the terms. But a monthly payment on a $250,000 loan at 4.5 percent is about $153 a month less.
Which money-saving resolutions are on your list? Share your thoughts in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.