It’s that time of year again, when people make resolutions to better themselves and their lives. Resolutions are great as long as you stick to them, but more often than not, once the dust settles and life returns to normal (usually around February), they go by the wayside. Don’t beat yourself up over it — it happens to the best of us. However, with just a little determination, you can achieve your money-saving resolutions for 2014 and realize a much bigger bank account by the end of the year.
1. Resolve to Shop Smart
Before you head out to buy a few things, take some time to do a little comparison shopping. Check no fewer than three different stores (you can do this online easily) to find the best price for the item you want to buy. This may seem a bit time-consuming, but trust me when I say, the more time you spend comparing prices, the more money you will save.
Something else I recommend doing is shopping during off-peak times. This, too, takes a little bit of planning, but if you know you like to update your wardrobe every season, wait until the end of the season to buy when items are marked down as much as 75 percent. You may have to wait to wear the clothes until the following year, but the savings are well worth it.
2. Resolve to Make a Budget
Did you know that only 32 percent of Americans actually have a monthly budget? That means the other 68 percent of us wonder where our money goes and why we never seem to have enough. Having a monthly budget that tracks income and spending allows you to see where the weaknesses are and forces you to live within your means.
3. Resolve to Pay off your Credit Cards
Here’s a scary thought: if you owe $2,800 on a credit card with a 12 percent interest rate, and you don’t add any more charges to it and only make the minimum payments each month, it will take you roughly 14 years to pay it off. Even worse, you’ll pay nearly $5,000 in total.
That’s outrageous — and avoidable — if you play your cards right.
When creating your budget, allocate extra funds to pay above and beyond your credit card’s minimum payment. If the minimum payment is $56 and you pay $250 each month, you’ll pay that card off in a year’s time and only pay about $185 in interest. If you have more than one credit card, focus on paying off one at a time, making just the minimum payment each month to the rest.
Once your credit cards are paid off, cut all of them up except for one – to only be used in an emergency. My motto is, if you can’t buy it with cash, you don’t need it.
2014 can be the year you learn to save, save, save. Begin small by making little changes so you don’t get overwhelmed. When you see the pennies adding up, you’ll be motivated to keep going. By the end of the year, you’ll be surprised at the amount of money still in your bank account!
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