New Year’s Resolution: Spend Less, Save More

Kristina Kraus
Greater Nevada Credit Union
Every year, millions of us vow to be better, get healthy, or improve our lives in some way. We call these vows our New Year’s Resolutions. Of those resolutions, one that always seems to be in the top ten for Americans is to save more money.
 
It‘s taken me years to learn how to save, but I can tell you that it can be simple once you get a routine down.

Start by Getting Organized

We tend to have habits like eating out every Friday night, going to a sporting event once a month, and driving to the same places. A lot of us can verbally talk about our day-to-day habits but we don’t always think about what they cost. If you add up all of your expenses for each month you might find the numbers are surprisingly more than you thought.
 
Being creatures of habit, we tend to spend about the same each month. Once you see the reality of what you’re spending, you can start asking yourself how to cut back. Apart from regular bills, top things we spend on are food, cars, and entertainment.  See how you can cut back costs on each.

Food

  • Make a Grocery List – Don’t just randomly write down the things that sound good like bananas, milk, ice cream and steak. What you need to do is actually plan out some meals and base your list off of that. This way you’ll end up eating out less and you’re not just buying random one off items that can’t make a meal.
  • Enjoy Your Left overs – Another easy way to save is by eating leftovers. Whether you plan a big batch or not, don’t throw away the extras. It’s never exciting to eat the same thing over and over but no one ever said you have to make your leftovers the same way. Cook some steak or chicken one night for tacos and the next time use the remaining meat for burritos or sandwiches.

Cars

Carpool – Supposing that you’re taking a trip with friends or simply heading to work, find out who you can ride with. Splitting gas rather than driving everywhere yourself can save a tremendous amount.

Public Transportation – You don’t have to take the bus or train on a daily basis but think of times where it might be more convenient. If you’re planning to visit a big city where parking isn’t easy, sometimes parking outside the city can save you money. Instead of wasting your time and gas looking for a spot, park in a less congested area and take a trolley in or whatever is available in the area. 

Even if you’re planning a trip, sometimes it is better to stay outside of a main metropolis. For example, I often go to San Francisco and because parking can take forever to find and hotels are very expensive, I will stay right outside of the city and take BART for transportation into the city, along with utilizing the cable cars to get around.
 
Ride a Bike – Weather permitting, instead of using your car, ride a bike. If you’re close enough to work, a nice bike ride will help get your blood flowing and provide daily exercise.
 
Bike riding is also a great form of entertainment if you have kids. There is no need to buy your kids anything overly expensive when the main thing they want is your time.

Entertainment

Hanging Out vs. Going Out – We all like to unwind but that doesn’t mean we need to go out. Even if you think you can go out and not spend money, more often than not we end up buying something. So say no to window shopping or hanging out at the bar and instead invite your friends over. Good friends will make you laugh and you’ll have fun no matter where you are.

Write Yourself a Check

Lastly, once you identify areas you can save, make sure you start putting away that extra money.  Think of it as writing yourself a check each month. Figure out a dollar amount that you can comfortably commit to and make it your new habit to put it into your savings every month.
 
 
 
1/02/15