Frugal date ideas have a bad reputation. Even money-conscious people tend to buy into the myth that if their partner doesn’t splurge on them for Valentine’s Day, then they don’t really love them. It’s ridiculous, of course. The amount you spend doesn’t say anything about the amount you love.
Kathryn Vercillo is a professional writer with more than a decade of experience writing about healthy living and personal finance. She lives in San Francisco, where she has learned to maximize frugal living tips in order to thrive as a freelancer in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. When she’s not writing, she’s exploring the city on foot with her rescue dog. Learn more about her at www.kathrynvercillo.com. Kathryn also writes about saving money with coupons over at GroceryCouponGuide.com
Looking for a New Year’s resolution? How about breaking some of those bad spending habits? Nothing wrong with ringing in the new year with more cash in your pockets, right?! Here’s 7 tips to help set up your 2019 finances for success.
1) Visualize your goals
Before you take action, visualize what you want your financial future to look like. Is your goal to buy a new car, your first home, or to just save more money? Once you can actually picture your future in a positive light, you’re more likely to push towards the path needed to achieve them.
2) Identify what’s not working
Next, take a look at your past financial wins and losses. Evaluate what you did right and take a closer look at the areas that may need improvement. Has overspending been an issue? Were you late on any of your bills, or always right on time? What about saving for retirement; are you happy with your current contribution? Once you realize what is, and is not working, you can create a game plan to start making improvements.
3) Cut costs
One of the major money issues almost all of us are guilty of from time-to-time is overspending. Even if you’re not trying to be wasteful, the higher costs associated with not shopping around, having bad credit or not being enrolled in a solid student loan repayment plan can all cause you to shell out more money than you may need to each month. To cut costs, take a look at where your money is currently going and spot any areas where you could be saving. Eating out often? Shop sales and eat at home. Spending $5 bucks a day on specialty coffee? Brew at home to save more than half that cost. Next, take a look at your bills and see if you can get a better deal. Cable, internet and even car insurance can all be negotiated. If you’ve been a loyal customer, call your current company and request a discount. If they say no, shop around for a better rate. You may be surprised to see how much cash you could be saving on the bills you already owe. A similar concept can be performed for student loan debt. If your payments are breaking your New Year’s budget, consider a consolidation. Those who qualify for an income-driven repayment program could see their payments drop to as low as $0 per month. To find out which plans may be available to you, check out Docupop. They can help you better understand your options to find the right repayment plan for your unique budget.
4) Build a supportive community
No matter how dedicated you are to your financial future, it’s difficult to thrive without a supportive network. Sit down with family and friends, and encourage one another to share your goals for 2019. Rather than leaving each person to figure things out on their own, come up with steps and strategies for how to get there together. The more supportive you are towards one another, the easier it is to get closer to the goals you might be after.
5) Visualize your goals daily
Did you know that simply visualizing your goals may actually help you achieve them sooner? That’s how powerful our brains are. Take advantage of this! Make your goals a reality in your mind, write them down, and say them out loud everyday. Before you know it, you’ll start crossing things off of your wishlist sooner rather than later.
6) Use educational tools
Whether you love to read, listen to podcasts, or watch something on a screen, there are plenty of FUN educational opportunities to help you achieve the final future you want. A personal development book can teach you how to make strong connections, while a money management podcast can teach you how to pay off debt in the most efficient way.
7) Set time aside for YOU
Sometimes we focus so much on our big, ‘to-do’s,’ that we forget about ourselves. A good balance is key to not only conquering your goals but to also staying healthy while on your path to success. This year, take a break to focus on yourself for a bit. Allow at least 10 minutes each day to relax on your own. Take a walk on your work break, read a book before bed or listen to your favorite song in a quiet place. You might be surprised to find just how far 10 minutes of relaxation can go.
To some of us, Halloween is an enjoyable time to dress up our children and/or ourselves, carve scary pumpkins, decorate our home with spooky effects, gorge on treats, and spend the next morning jogging off a candy binge. To others, it is time to figure out how much candy they need to have on hand to avoid cleaning toilet paper out of their trees the next morning.
Regardless of what you do the morning after Halloween, with these simple steps you can wake up with a thicker wallet than usual, and not just from hiding Hershey’s Kisses in it.
Buy Bulk Candy – You can save tremendous money by buying individually wrapped bulk candy instead of the overpriced brand name assortments at your grocery store or pharmacy. Do make sure that you buy individually wrapped candies; parents will (and should) shy away from letting their children try loose candies because of tampering concerns.
Make Your Own Costumes – It takes a little more thought, but you can come up with creative ideas for your children’s costumes without having to go to the party store and purchase a pre-packaged costume. Get your kids involved in the creative process, and prepare to be amazed at their ideas.
As for you, what if you don’t like to dress up at all? Get some spare tax forms and go as a tax collector. How frightening is that?
The point is that you can come up with something clever without an elaborate costume. As a result, you will be more comfortable at the Halloween party, appropriately warm, and not burdened by the realization that your elaborate costume makes it impossible to use the bathroom.
Make/Recycle Decorations – You can save significant money by making your own Halloween decorations out of inexpensive craft materials and leftover project materials you may have around the house. Old boxes, construction paper, leftover fabric or worn-out clothes… with a little glue, paint, and markers, they can be made into tombstones, spiders, ghosts, and other timeless classics.
Use Thrift/Dollar Stores – Why pay more than you have to? Thrift shops are full of costumes and decorations for the creative-minded soul at rock-bottom prices. Dollar stores also stock seasonal bargains and are a great source for simple decorations or the materials you need to make them. Go early, or the selection will be picked over.
Pool Your Resources – Find a group of friends with whom you can share decorations and costume pieces. It’s a great way to get more life out of materials without doing the same thing every year.
Bring-Your-Own Parties – If you are hosting a party, try making it a bring-your-own buffet. Your guests may surprise you with tasty holiday treats, and if not… well, what could be more frightening than a mystery casserole? Turn it to your advantage with a creative ingredient list: Eye of Newt, and a dash of powdered toenails…
Take Advantage of Post-Halloween Discounts – It won’t help you this year, but stores will be clearing out their costume and decorations shelves the day after Halloween to expand the Thanksgiving and Christmas displays. You can pick up great bargains to store for 10/31/2019.
You can also pick up Halloween candy at a discount, but don’t kid yourself into thinking that will last more than a week. Show up as soon as the store opens and be prepared for hand-to-hand combat in the candy aisle. The day after Halloween is Black Friday for candy addicts.
Get an extra level of Halloween enjoyment this year by having a great time and saving money in the process. You will enjoy the glow of a fatter bank account, and you probably will not feel nearly as guilty when you raid your children’s Halloween candy after they go to sleep.
This article was provided by our partners at MoneyTips.com.