New Year, New Financial Goals (And How to Stick to Them)
Did your New Year’s resolution involve saving more money? If so, you’re not alone. Here are some tips for spending less in 2023 and the little things you can do to stick to your financial goals as we head into February and beyond.
According to a WalletHub® survey, one in three Americans planned to make finance-related resolutions for the 2023 New Year. The same survey also found that 31 percent of Americans who made a financial resolution want to save more, and 60 percent of people are anxious about their financial situation coming into the new year. With the inflation rate so high, this is hardly surprising.
So, what can you do to ensure you achieve your personal finance goals in 2023? Here are our top tips for some popular New Year’s resolutions.
Resolution 1: Saving more money
We all want to save more money, right? Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done.
One of the best steps you can take to start saving money or building an emergency fund is to know where your money is going. This is the first step to creating a budget and will tell you some hard truths about your spending habits (we’ll give you budgeting tips in another section). Take some time to look at how much you make vs. how much you spend. What are some categories you can realistically cut back on, and what can you do to help make sure you spend less in those categories?
For instance, if you’re spending a lot of money online shopping, you could create minor adjustments to make it harder to buy things online. Some examples could be deleting repeat-offender shopping apps from your phone, unsubscribing from retail marketing emails, or deleting stored credit cards in your shopping app accounts.
Now, we get it — some of you might have gasped at the thought of deleting shopping apps from your phone. If that’s something you can’t fathom doing, we get it. But if you find yourself shopping too much, ensure you’re not leaving money on the table. At the very least, try signing up for rewards programs at your favorite stores to maximize the bang for your buck.
Another good way to start saving? Pick an amount you’d like to save each month and set up a recurring transfer to your savings account. Better yet, set up a portion of your paycheck to go straight into a high-yield savings account.
If you change your mindset and start considering your monthly savings as just another bill you have to pay, you might be surprised at the results. Think of it as a paycheck to your future self!
Resolution 2: Paying down debt
There are two good methods to use when paying off debt: the debt avalanche method and the debt snowball method. Each method lets you prioritize your debt payments in different ways.
Think of your debt as a mountain. The debt avalanche method has you start at the top of your debt mountain, paying down your high-interest debt first. Using this method, you would rank your debt from the highest APR to the lowest. Typically, your credit card debt would have the highest interest rate. Working from the top down, you’d begin paying off the highest interest balance first while making only the minimum payments on your other debts — these could include your car payment, student loans, mortgage payment, etc.
Once you pay off the debt with the highest APR, you’d move to the next highest one and make your way down the list. This method can save you more money on interest in the long run.
The debt snowball method is a bit different. True to its name, the snowball method has you start at the bottom of the mountain. You’d begin by ranking your debt from the lowest balance to the highest balance. You then start paying off the smallest balance first and slowly work your way up the mountain until you finally reach the biggest balance.
While this method might not save you more money in the long run, it can be helpful in another way. Paying off any debt — no matter how small — can boost your confidence. Making these small wins early on can give you enough momentum to continue paying down the rest of your debt.
Resolution 3: Find little ways to earn more and increase your net worth
It’s time to get resourceful and find an easy way to earn extra cash!
One passive way to do this is to collect cash back from certain credit card rewards or apps like Ibotta®, which offer cash-back rebates to users who upload receipts after shopping at certain stores. Little acts like this help turn your everyday shopping into a way to earn some extra money.
Another route you can take is to start a low-effort side hustle. You might be surprised at the little things you can do to earn money. An easy one may be selling unwanted items from your home — clothes, furniture, unused kitchen appliances, old children’s toys, etc.
You could also do a little digging and possibly score a gig taking surveys, selling stock photos (if you’re into photography), transcribing audio, product testing, and more. If you have the time and means, you could offer your services as a house sitter, babysitter, or pet sitter. You could consider renting your car out if you don’t use it often.
While these aren’t exactly get-rich-quick schemes that will bump you into a higher tax bracket, a little money on the side now can add up throughout the year. You can use this money to make an extra bill payment or throw it right in a savings or investment account — the choice is yours.
Want to learn more about your AGI? Check out our adjusted gross income calculator.
Resolution 4: Improve your credit score
Another common resolution is to crank up the numbers on your credit score. This number can significantly impact how much money you spend on credit down the road, so increasing it is a great way to save your future self some cash.
You can do several little things to increase your credit score:
- Pay off debt and make loan payments on time
- Limit opening new credit accounts if you can help it
- Spend only as much credit as you need (a good rule of thumb is to keep your credit utilization below 30 percent)
Depending on your current score, you may also be able to take advantage of a free service like Experian Boost, which allows you to build credit by paying for your regular bills that wouldn’t otherwise be reported to credit bureaus like utilities, subscription services, or your cell phone service.
Resolution 5: Stick to a budget
Possibly one of the hardest resolutions to keep, are we right?
Simply starting a budget is the first (and hardest) step. To begin, start tracking your spending throughout the month. Once you understand where your money is going, you can better understand what you can and can’t afford.
As we mentioned, a good strategy is to consider your savings as another bill you must pay each month. Add up all of your monthly expenses, and be sure to include your savings goals.
There are many budgeting apps out there that can help you track your spending and keep yourself in check. Some apps even let you link your credit cards and loan services for easier tracking.
2023: The year you become financially savvy
Don’t let your financial New Year’s resolution fall by the wayside. Keep yourself honest this year by taking small steps to better understand and build your financial health. Whether it’s saving more, sticking to a budget, or paying off debt, the most important thing you can do is change your mindset. Don’t tackle all these resolutions at once — to achieve financial success, it’s essential to break everything down into small goals and work your way up to where you want to be.
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