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This guest post is a joint effort with Harry’s. Harry’s is helping us find actionable ways to save more money this year. Check it out and let me know your thoughts in the comments.
It’s almost the new year, which means resolutions are right around the corner, if not already listed on smartphone apps and sticky notes. Considering 69% of consumers admit to having less than $1,000 in their savings accounts, it’s no surprise that many set a goal aimed at improving their financial health.
The problem is, well-intentioned resolutioners are prone to setting unrealistic goals focused around where they hope to end up instead of mapping out actionable, sustainable changes. To help you attain your financial goals, here are 5 ways to save in 2018, starting today.
Apple Pay, credit cards, online shopping — it all makes mindless spending a simple habit to fall into. The trick isn’t to blindly set a weekly or monthly savings goal. Instead, start paying closer attention to where your money is going. Enlist the help of a free budgeting app like Personal Capital or Mint, and don’t forget to enable the notifications. Once you sync your accounts, the app does the rest. This way, it’s your saving habit that becomes automated, not spending.
Finding out you spend $30 per week on iced lattes may be a hard pill to swallow, but tracking your spending and creating a budget for necessary purchases is essential for saving money.
To make you more aware of where your money goes, one of the first things your budgeting app will likely do is analyze your recurring payments, including subscriptions. While some of these may be worth dropping (like that one app’s free trial you forgot to cancel), many subscription services can save you big.
Rule of thumb? Subscribe to your necessities. Examples include:
With subscription services like these, spending money on necessities is much less painful when you know you’re getting the best value for your dollar.
Next to housing-related expenses, food continues to consume a greater share of the average American household income, and global food waste amounts to nearly $990 billion a year. The best way to reduce your personal contribution to this waste while mitigating its impact on your wallet is to plan out weekly meals, and then grocery shop with a list based on your meal plan.
Set yourself up for success by planning out weekly lunches and a couple dinners a week to start. To automate things along, try out Mealime, a healthy recipe app that populates a grocery list for you based on the recipes you choose for the week. Bonus: this will help you achieve health-related resolutions, too.
Speaking of food and our penchant for wasting money on it, the average American spends nearly $1,043 a year at restaurants for lunch. Think of what you could do with that extra money had you planned a little better.
Once you tackle your meal planning strategy, invest in brown bags and Tupperware to eliminate any excuse you may have for not bringing your lunch to work.
Everyone has at least one item of clothing that has been hanging in their closet for a year with the price tag still attached. Instead of taking up space, that item could be earning you money elsewhere. Thankfully, there’s an app for this, too.
It’s not just your unloved clothes that are costing you, either. Block off a weekend, grab your phone or camera, wrangle up and categorize the items in your home, and get them ready to sell. The temptation to dump when you declutter is understandable, but our landfills need a break, and the earning potential of the things you’ve forgotten you own is unlimited.