Saturday, November 28, 2015, AM | Leave Comment
As is common with New Year’s resolutions, we always have good intentions at the beginning of the year—only to run out of steam about a month in.
And if 2016 is like every other year of the past several decades, then chances are that one of the major themes of this year’s resolutions will be…finances.
Successfully keeping a New Year’s resolution always starts with making the right one; here are seven different financial New Year’s resolutions that you can make—and actually keep—in 2016. (Just don’t stress yourself out trying to handle all of them!)
Nix unused subscriptions
This is an easy resolution that you can accomplish during the month of January.
Are there any subscriptions in your life that you’re paying for but simply not using? Get rid of them!
Think newspapers, magazines, and online entertainment streaming services.
Then think of any gym or club memberships that you might have.
And don’t forget about things that you thought would be worth the expense but that you didn’t end up using enough—like yearlong expedited shipping at a particular online store.
Shop around to get a lower monthly bill
This is another New Year’s resolution that you could potentially accomplish within the month of January.
The beginning of the year is a good time to do some “shopping around” in order to lower your monthly bills.
Are you paying too much for your car or homeowner’s insurance, for example? Could your cell phone and cable bills be lower? What about that robust streaming service subscription that you’d like to keep but maybe downgrade?
Make it a goal to make at least one of your monthly bills lower.
Create an emergency fund
If you don’t yet have an emergency fund, the beginning of the year—when you’re still feeling that enthusiasm about making New Year’s resolutions—is a great time to start one.
Keep in mind that this is a major goal that you will want to start and then chip away at gradually over time.
Many financial experts recommend that an emergency fund should hold enough funds to finance your typical lifestyle (if scaled down a little) for about six months.
So if you live on about $5,000 per month, you would want about $30,000 in your emergency fund.
In order to make for a realistic New Year’s resolution, you might make it a goal to have at least 10% of your goal emergency fund amount in your emergency fund by six months into the year.
Find something realistic that will challenge you but won’t restrict you from starting in the first place.
Stick to generic brands at the grocery store
This is a great resolution you can make that requires only a simple lifestyle change—opting for generic brands over brand-name store brands at the grocery store.
Generic brands don’t just apply to foods, either; you’ll see them for medicine, toiletries, and more at the grocery store.
This is a small change in your grocery shopping habits that could have you saving big on groceries throughout the year.
Energy-optimize your hot water heater
Did you know that the hot water heater accounts for an average of 14% of a home’s energy costs?
Optimizing your hot water heater to save on as much energy as possible is a great resolution to make because it requires only a few simple steps, you can check it off, and you’ll enjoy savings for months to come.
To energy-optimize your hot water heater, first turn it down to about 125–130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then, consider installing a hot water heater blanket to help eliminate energy loss (this will eventually pay for itself).
Additionally, you can insulate any exposed water pipes to save on even more energy.
Sell unused items
Make it a goal during the month of January to go through your possessions, decide what you no longer need or use, and sell what you think people will buy through a site like Craigslist or Ebay.
This is a great way to gain unexpected “pocket change” and to become more mindful of what you don’t need to be spending your money on.
If you can’t do it all at once, try making it a goal to go through one room at a time throughout the year—the attic in January, the kitchen in February, your bedroom in March, and the garage in April, for example.
Prepare a will
If you have any preference at all about how your finances and assets will be handled after you die (and chances are that you do), then you’ll want to prepare a will.
As this article details, many believe that it is not necessarily in their best interest to create a will, or that creating a will will complicate the probate process for your posterity.
The truth is, however, that preparing a will will make you prepared and will ensure that your wishes are carried out should the worst happen.
This is one resolution you can make, check off, and enjoy peace of mind after.
Article is written by Maurine Dashney