As the new year begins, you may be thinking about some concrete financial resolutions that you’d like to make for 2016. For example, would you like to pay off your debt? Save more money- and spend less money? Improve your credit score? Build an emergency fund? These are all important actions to take that will put you one step closer to optimal financial health. However, for many people, money is an exhausting topic to think about. Without some easy ways to actively control your finances, you may find that you’re ready to throw in the towel before the end of the month.
Don’t despair — set your goals high and even if it takes baby steps to reach them, you will get there with time, perseverance and a few excellent money hacks that will help adjust the way you spend, boost the way you earn and amplify the way you save. These money hacks are simple to follow and will put you one step closer to a positive relationship with your money.
Only spend cash.
The majority of us are attached to our credit cards and debit cards, but one great way to rein in your spending is to only use cash. Leave your plastic at home and if you run out of cash, you’ll have to wait until you earn more to spend again.
Unsubscribe from e-mails from your favorite stores.
Are you constantly barraged by e-mails from your favorite stores screaming, “30% off!” and “biggest sale of the season!”? It’s too easy to just click and buy before you’ve even had a chance to process whether or not you need that reclaimed barn-wood coffee table just because it’s 30% off. Out of sight, out of mind is a powerful tactic. Unsubscribe from those emails and you’ll save yourself a lot of money in the long run.
While couponing isn’t a novel tip on its own, there might be a few places that you can look for coupons that you may not know about. For example, some large retailers and grocery stores have store specific apps, and there are a number of coupon apps and rebate apps as well:
- Store specific apps with coupons: Kroger, Target Cartwheel, Safeway, Walmart, Publix, Costco
- Coupon apps: The Coupons App, Grocery Pal, Coupon Sherpa, Shopular, Coupons.com
- Rebate apps: Cartwheel, Checkout 51, Ibotta, Snap by Groupon, Jingit, BerryCart
Buy discount gift cards.
Did you know that it’s possible to exchange gift cards online? There are loads of online sites for gift card exchanging these days. You can sell gift cards you might have laying around but you can also purchase gift cards at a discounted rate. In fact, you can often find gift cards that cost 10-35% less than the value of the gift card. Remember, even if the savings sounds small, a few dollars here and there add up.
Read more: Sell your unwanted gift cards online
Find an accountability partner.
Many people are more apt to keep their resolutions if they are held accountable by someone else. This person could be your spouse, significant other or a friend or family member. Select the person who is going to hold you most accountable and report your saving/spending to them every week. Set goals and share them with your partner so they can help you stay on track.
Rent out your stuff.
The rise of the “sharing economy” has created a number of opportunities to make some extra money. There are more and more companies that are focusing on turning your home, car and other belongings into rentals.Here are a few examples:
- Airbnb – This is a popular company that allows you sign up with them to host travelers in your home. This is a great opportunity for a little extra cash if you are someone that travels a lot or has a spare bedroom.
- Turo – Formerly named RelayRides, Turo helps you rent your car out. The company sets the price of renting based on the market value of your car, location and time of year. A $12k car rented out 8 days a month is estimated to earn $2,400.
- Spinlister – Do you have a bike, surfboard or snowboard that needs some attention? Rent them out through Spinlister and you may be able to earn $7/hr and $20/day.
Get your rewards…and use them.
Nowadays, many of the big name retailers have some kind of rewards/loyalty program like the Kroger Plus Card or CVS ExtraCare. If you use the credit card (be sure to pay it off) make sure you have one with good rewards and use them. This all helps you mitigate spending and utilize the extra cash flow to enhance your financial situation. There are even rewards organizers like AwardWallet where you can keep track of the things you use and be reminded when different benefits are set to expire.
Comb through you credit card statements & cut the fat.
This is a big one. If you’re not already looking through your credit card statements to see where you can cut the fat, now’s the time. Recurring charges really add up. Take a look at what you’re paying for regularly and decide if you actually still need it. If there are charges on your statements for services or publications you haven’t used or read for the last three months, it’s a good indication that you don’t need them. It’s amazing how many times we tell ourselves that a $9.99 subscription here or there won’t break the bank, but once all of those subscriptions add up you might be spending an extra $100 or more a month.
It’s a new year, and a great opportunity to turn your relationship with money into a positive one. Start by using a couple of these money hacks this month, and add on another couple each month after. For more secrets on how to get your financial house in order, please download this free e-book, 17 Money Hacks – Save More, Earn More, Spend Less.
For more money-saving advice, see our Money section.