Curb spending without compromising on a high standard of living in 2019.
With the start of the new year ushering in a clean slate, now is a perfect time to revisit financial goals and strategize ways to maximize savings. But aside from determining where to cut back
unnecessary spending, it’s important to create a budget that reflects your values and prioritizes quality experiences, allowing you to live the life you want. So, if you’re looking to take action and set achievable money goals for the new year, read on for simple ideas for spending less — without compromising on a happy and fulfilling lifestyle — in 2019.
Create an emergency fund.
If you set up an emergency fund, you’ll set yourself up for a more successful (and stress-free) 2019. Robert Johnson, professor of finance at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, suggests using the financial app Acorn to establish a dedicated fund. “You tie Acorn to your debit card and it rounds the purchase up to the nearest dollar, effectively allowing you to invest your spare change. So, if your Starbucks latte costs $3.53, $4 will be taken out of your account with $3.53 going to Starbucks and $0.47 going into your investment account,” Johnson explains. You may also want to consider using savvy money-saving and budgeting tools from Mint.com and ClarityMoney.com.
Adjust your thermostat.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but this smart and simple money-saving idea involves only a few seconds of your time, and otherwise no sacrifice. “Before you leave your house or apartment for work, adjust your thermostat by three degrees,” says Karen Ford, a financial coach, speaker and author in Morgantown, West Virginia. “Why heat or cool the place when you’re not there for eight to 12 hours while you’re working? Adjust it back when you get home. This can actually save you $10 to $20 per month and, in the long run, this can be $120 to $240 (of savings) per year.”
Refinance a loan.
If it makes financial sense to refinance a loan — that is, your savings far outweigh any fees — this may be a good money move for you. Jennifer Beeston, vice president of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate, a mortgage company headquartered in Chicago, says that “refinances are closing in as fast as 15 days, so in 15 days you could save money without having to give anything up.” She also suggests looking at student interest rates and seeing if you can refinance for a lower rate. “I am a big fan of Credible.com,” she says. Credible.com lets users compare student loans from vetted lenders. Other venerable lending websites for refinancing include SoFi.com, Earnest.com and LendKey.com.
Pay your insurance up front.
Drew Feutz, a certified financial planner with Market Street Wealth Management Advisors in Indianapolis who manages the personal finance site CertifiablyFinancial.com, says “one easy way to save money without sacrificing is to change the frequency of your insurance payments.” It won’t work for all insurance payments, including your health insurance premiums, but some policies give the consumer a choice to pay in monthly, quarterly, every six months or annual installments.
Generally, you can save anywhere from 2 to 8 percent on your insurance by following this strategy, and if you are doing it with several insurance policies, that may add up nicely.
Teach your kids savvy spending and saving tricks.
Teaching your children valuable money lessons early on can prove to be a worthwhile long-term financial investment. When grocery shopping, teach youngsters how to comparison shop and look for retailers’ private-label brands to score a good bargain, since typically they’re 15 to 30 percent less expensive than non-private label brands. You’ll also want to discuss the difference between wants and needs when it comes to spending and emphasize the merits of bargain-hunting and quality versus quantity. You won’t only be helping your kids, you’ll reduce your bottom line, too. After all, as your kids get older, they’ll be encouraged not to waste money if you’ve taught them well.
Consider changing your internet, cable or phone service.
You can save a bundle by switching providers. “Where I live, there are two options: Cox and AT&T. Each offers deals for new customers. Usually the deals are good for a year, after which the price increases,” explains Neil Thompson, a San Diego entrepreneur who has developed an online public speaking course “Teach the Geek to Speak.” “I’ll get the Cox offer for a year, then switch to the AT&T offer after that. I’ll keep switching back and forth,” Thompson says. By switching providers, Thompson says his internet service went from $50 to $30 per month. Another way to save: Cut the cord and use a cost-effective streaming service rather than cable.
Eliminate extra food-related expenses.
One way to optimize savings in 2019, according to Kevin Fields, a financial advisor, attorney and owner of Fields Financial Planning in Westerville, Ohio, is packing your lunch, rather than dining out during workdays. “Saving $5 a day on lunches can easily add up to over $1,000 annually,” he says. “If you include the magic of compound interest over a career that spans multiple decades, the savings becomes incredibly significant.” And when you consider that the average American household spends about $3,000 a year dining out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, curbing food costs is a simple way to rein in spending.
Cut out unnecessary costs — but don’t deprive yourself.
While you should budget well and stop paying for services you don’t use, don’t cut the little things that bring you pleasure, says Justine Haemmerli, a Philadelphia-based entrepreneur who owns the gift-giving site, GirlsGoneHappy.org. “For years I wouldn’t let myself get fancy coffee because I felt like this was the road to financial ruin,” Haemmerli says. But she eventually concluded that giving herself the treat of buying expensive coffee made her happier and satisfied with how she spent her money. If you cut out too many purchases, you’ll be more anxious with your money and backslide more with your budgeting, Haemmerli explains.
Open a savings or retirement account.
In 2019, make sure you put your hard-earned dollars to good use. For example, if you’ve received a holiday bonus or a raise, this would be an ideal time to stow away some of your money in a savings or retirement account, Fields says. “I always suggest that clients immediately increase their retirement account contribution by the amount of any annual pay increase,” Fields says. “If their raise is automatically deducted from their paycheck and transferred to their 401(k), they are unlikely to miss it. On the other hand, once they start receiving that higher income, it becomes more difficult to forgo it later on.”
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9 Ways to Live Well and Spend Less in 2019 originally appeared on usnews.com