Make the Next 12 Months More Budget Friendly

Make the Next 12 Months More Budget Friendly

Are you already looking towards the coming year and want to make it more budget friendly? Keep on reading for financial tips and tricks that are highly effective but often overlooked to help you stay financially sound.

#1: Automatic Payments

Take the guesswork out of when to pay your bills by setting up automatic payments with your bank. Also, while you’re at it, set up a payment for yourself! Additionally, establish an automatic transfer to a savings account or Roth IRA .

#2: Eat Out Less

In 2015 the average American spent $3,008 on restaurants and takeout food. This was in addition to $4,015 on groceries. Just imagine what you could do with the savings by making the majority of your meals at home.

#3: Thrift Store Shopping

If you are looking to replace a household item, why not try a store that sells reused items. At thrift stores you can find clothing, housewares, kitchen items, books, and more for a fraction of the cost.

#4: Free Entertainment

Keeping the family entertained doesn’t have to be a challenge or expensive. Instead of going to a movie (which also requires spending money on soda and food) why not go for a hike or bike ride? Check with the local library and rec center for free or low cost activities.

#5: Plan Ahead for Holidays and Birthdays

Buying gifts doesn’t have to be a hassle. Know who is on your shopping list and keep an eye out for bargains throughout the year. Those Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals are exciting, but it means blowing a lot of your budget in December for goods that you will have to pay for in January.

#6: Bargain Websites

There are many bargain websites out there that say they offer good deals. Just make sure that you do your homework and compare with other sites to ensure you are getting the best, budget friendly price.

#7: Redeem Miles or Points

Credit cards now offer redeemable miles or points which you can use to purchase gift cards.. Remember our discussion about free entertainment and eating out? Hold yourself to only eating out or going to a movie only when you can get a redeemable card. That way you spend nothing extra but still get to have some fun.

#8: Pay Off Your Credit Card Each Month

Believe it or not the average household in the U.S. owes $16, 883 in credit card debt. Not paying off your balance each month means more that you have to pay in interest. Over time that can add up to really big numbers. So hold yourself to paying off your credit card monthly.  If you can't pay the entire balance, try to pay more than the minimum payment.  Every little bit helps.

#9: Track Expenses

It is important to know what your expenses are so that you can manage your money. Sign up for websites that provide tracking and budgeting services. They have the ability to break down your spending for you into categories so you can really see where your money is going.

#10: Get a Flu Shot

A flu shot is inexpensive and often free under many health plans. Why is getting a shot important? Because when you get sick you lose productivity. This in turn can mean lost revenue, especially if you use up or sick days or don’t have sick days to begin with.

#11: Be Healthy

Don’t stop with just a flu shot. Eat right, exercise, and quit smoking to avoid major medical expenses later on in life.

#12: Avoid Brand-Names and Shop at Wholesale Stores

Save some money by purchasing generic vs. brand-name goods. There are options for everything from toilet paper to prescriptions. Why pay more when the generic version does the same thing?

Being budget friendly doesn’t have to be rocket science. By taking some simple steps, you can improve your financial health for the coming year.

Denise Kautzer is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and a Certified Public Accountant whose practice is located in St. Paul, MN. You can view her website at www.denisekautzer.com or contact her at denise@denisekautzer.com.