No matter what you celebrated last month, the holidays are notorious for mercilessly squandering savings. After all, it’s hard to stay on budget when you’re faced with parties, potlucks and pricey gift exchanges, all packed into two weeks. Now that the most wonderful time of the year is over and we’re into a brand new one, the bills are coming in fast and furious, forcing many to look for creative ways to perform CPR on their ailing savings accounts.
While life on a budget isn’t very enviable or Insta-worthy, it’s a vital step towards financial security, especially if you’re saving for a new home. And what better time to adopt smarter spending habits than at the beginning of a new year?
The abundance of ‘New Year, New Me’ posts indicate that January is a popular month for self-reflection. This also makes it a prime time to assess your finances and determine where you can tighten up on your spending. Be sure to ask all of the important questions and be honest with yourself. How much does it really cost for you to live on a day-to-day basis? And what will it take to get that number as low as possible?
The most important factor to this self-assessment is honesty. The more realistic you are, the more likely it is that your plan will actually work for you. No financial advisor knows you better than you know yourself, so you are the most qualified to set the blueprint for your smarter spending.
Still, any significant change will take ample time and adjustment to integrate into your routine. So instead of completely uprooting your regimen, start small with these subtle changes:
1) Limit ride-sharing
Let’s face it: Uber is highly addictive. Once you grow accustom to having a driver at your disposal as soon as you need one, it’s hard to go back to waiting at crowded bus stops in subzero temps.
Ride-sharing is supposed to be the affordable alternative to owning a car or taking taxis, but it is still usually more expensive than transit and using your own two feet. So if you are an admitted Uber-addict, instead of quitting cold-turkey, treat yourself to one ride every week and opt for public transit instead. Or, brave the cold and get the bike out of storage.
2) Get tech smart
Do you really need internet access 24/7? If data overage is constantly sending your phone bill askew, you may want to consider going back to the basics and reducing your plan to prepaid talk and text. Many people use comprehensive data plans for work purposes but if you don’t, you would definitely benefit from nixing your data plan and using free wifi instead, allowing you to save money and enjoy some time offline.
Tech subscription services can be taxing as well, whether you’re streaming music, movies or your favourite shows. Nowadays, it’s hard to find a legal way around streaming but you can save money on your subscriptions by sharing passwords with your friends or family and splitting the bill with them.
3) Pay yourself to post
From fitness teas to waist trainers, the Insta-elite are cashing in on paid posts and you can do the same! If you are are a frequent poster but haven’t yet caught the attention of sponsors, you can invest in yourself by depositing a set amount of spare money into your savings account every time you make a post. This will turn your social media time into savings time. If you’re lacking the funds to post to social media, that might be good too! Spend some time doing other free things like exercising or reading a book (those paper things with pages).
In order for these tips to work, you need to vigilantly adhere to your plan. It probably won’t come easily but once you bounce back with a fuller wallet and fortified financial prowess, it will all be worth it.