It may be daunting take a hard look at our finances at the end of the year. After spending extra cash on gifts, holiday travel or even splurging on ourselves, our budgets begin to feel out of whack. But now is perfect time to plan for the year ahead and revamp how we make and spend money. Use this time to figure out your budgeting and saving strategy and kick off the new year on the right foot. We’ve put together a few ways to save money you can work on right now for a wallet-friendly January and beyond.
Start earning passive income
Passive income is exactly what it sounds like: Income you get without having to do much of anything. Talk to your Farm Bureau agent for a host of options that make sense for your portfolio. Other choices include trying an app like Acorns or even going for a peer-to-peer lending program like Prosper.
In addition, look for ways to make what you have generate extra income. Consider hosting a short-term rental space through a platform like Airbnb or VRBO if you have, say, an unused basement or a room over the garage. Do your research and find a way that works for you and your lifestyle.
What’s one more subscription? That’s an easy thing we tell ourselves, and before we know it, we’ve signed up for five different things charged monthly to a credit card with a tally that’s costing more than the grocery bill. Yikes! The subscription e-commerce market has grown exponentially in the past five years, according to Forbes, and you might be surprised by how much you’re spending. In some cases, subscriptions can save you money, like if you order coffee beans and typically make your latte at home. In other instances, subscriptions can derail your budget. For example, maybe you’ve signed up for a meal-kit delivery, but you find that you’re grabbing takeout anyway, and it’s going to waste. Keep the subscriptions that save you money and that make your life easier, and cancel the ones that don’t make your life easier or better in some way.
We live in the digital age, and we can set up our financial life to manage itself and save money in the process. Set up all your bills to be automatically debited from an account. This helps you avoid late fees or credit dings and eliminates bill-pay hassles. Set up your credit card payments to be automatically debited, too. Pay the full balance every month, or, if you’re trying to reduce a balance over time, set the payment for more than the minimum amount and stop using the card. Automate saving money, as well, so that the money becomes unavailable to spend unless there’s an emergency. Set up weekly recurring transfers from checking to savings. If you have a job with a 401(k), your retirement savings likely is deducted from your paycheck (before taxes), but if you have retirement accounts not tied to an employer, set up automatic monthly or quarterly contributions. Of course, just because things are automated, doesn’t mean you should stop checking in on your accounts.
Set specific savings goals
We often set vague financial New Year’s resolutions about saving cash. But saying you want to save more money and spend less isn’t something that will magically happen without a plan. Plus, devising a strategy can be tricky if you don’t have a detailed objective in mind. However, if you decide you want to increase your emergency fund by $3,000 this year, for example, you can outline the specific steps on creating a budget to do that. Just figure out how to earn an extra $250 per month or dial back your budget to squirrel away that amount. Your goal (and the corresponding plan) should be realistic as well as specific, so you can actually achieve it.