Friday, November 17, 2017

Are You Thinking Of New Year's Resolutions Yet?

I usually start my New Year's resolutions around Thanksgiving. Once they are written down, I start keeping notes so I can devise the best plans possible for each one. Of course, they rarely last past March but, it's fun while it lasts! The only resolution that ever really sticks is saving money. It may not be a whole lot of money but, it's something and that's what I'm after.

Unless you already have a trillion dollars saved up for retirement, you're probably trying to find some easy ways to start socking money away in such a way that you won't miss it, right? This is typically my goal and what I try to figure and refigure when working on my family's budget. I don't claim to be Dave Ramsey or anything like that but, maybe some of my tips will resonate with you!

Save Save Save! 

A few years ago we started an "envelope budget" and filled each envelope with cash. After I wasn't able to work anymore due to a disability, it was a little harder to try and stash the cash in the envelopes. (I bartended so this was simple to do with tip money!) Now, I would have to travel 20 miles to remove the actual cash from the bank or I end up paying an ATM fee. (Which kind of defeats the whole purpose, right?) So, I try my best to have cash on hand for most of the envelopes each month. 

The whole point behind this was that we tend to spend less when using actual cash as compared to debit and credit cards. It's super easy to overspend when using a card but, if you can see the real money in your hands, disappearing, you will probably start putting some impulse items back on the shelf. (I overspend at the grocery store most often when I use a card.)

Every family will have different envelopes to go along with their personal budget. 
We have the following envelopes for ours: 

Groceries, gas, school supplies/school store, pizza, clothing/shoes, entertainment. 

Clothing/shoes and even entertainment are very rarely used in full so at the end of the month we take that money and add to our savings. There are a few times during the year when we do have to spend more on clothing and shoes and I do shop online most of the time so, I use bank cards for these purchases. (But, there are ways to save with these too!)

Another tactic we use for savings which have proven to be quite successful is an online savings account. We started this several years ago and also started our children's savings accounts through the same bank. You simply set up a recurring deposit to come directly from your checkings account and you can make this a weekly deposit, bi-weekly, monthly, whatever you choose! I like to have our deposits come each week on payday for each account. Plus, our kids deposit 10% of their allowance each month into their savings accounts. 

It isn't too hard to retrieve your money from an online savings account if an emergency pops up. But, when there aren't any emergencies, it can tend to be too much of a hassle to bother. If you're at the mall and think you need to buy a new dress or new shoes, you will have to wait a few days for the money if you do decide to transfer. By then you may have decided to just keep your money anyway. 

If you do have unsecured credit card debt and need to try to save on your monthly bills, check our Nationwide Debt Reduction Services. They do have options available for you if you are looking to repair your credit and repay your debt. This will help tremendously if you are trying to help your financial situation and save money!

Saving With Credit Cards

Believe it or not, there are some tricks to shopping online and using credit cards. If you aren't a total shopping addict, it could be seriously easy to save money this way! 

There are always so many deals, discounts, sales, even cash back sites to use for virtually everything and anything you can think of. I'm sure you have probably noticed different rewards sites and cash back offers all over the Internet numerous times. If you haven't already signed up for one, make sure you find an offer for a startup bonus! There are programs that will pay you in cash and some will give you a percentage back in points. You can redeem the points for gift cards and sometimes PayPal payments. I have a few accounts with these types of sites and I always check for the best deal before clicking. 

You will have to wait anywhere from 30 days to 90 days to receive your reward so this is an easy way to just deposit the check you receive into your savings account or let your gift cards pile up and use them for holiday shopping, school shopping, or for your linens and towels. As I mentioned, I have a few accounts so, I do have a goal for each one. I use one account for holiday shopping, another for school shopping, and the cash back account for our savings account. I also have our bank cards and credit cards tied to a college savings account so each purchase that fits their criteria will automatically be deposited for me and I don't have to do anything but keep my cards updated! 

Another bonus to using credit cards are rewards programs. (You can easily double dip when shopping online!) There are so many different options out there to fit different needs. Our favorite allows us to choose whether to receive a check, statement credit, or credit to be used for shopping. We use this one card to pay bills such as our cell phone bill and we use this one for anything from business expenses to clothing and shoes. We do our best to pay this card off in full each month so there aren't any fees or interest added. (If there is an emergency, this is one of the last ones to be paid in full but, we typically manage it well.) It's a lot of fun to watch the rewards pile up and at the end of the year, we make a decision on what we're going to use the money for. We actually used the money to pay a month on our mortgage payment a few times! But, you could also take this money and deposit into your savings!

Always pay attention to anything you might receive in the mail from your cards too! Sometimes you'll find offers for no interest purchases and other ways to save on your card. Just pay close attention to the fine print. While the "No interest for 12 months" might be an incentive for you to splurge, you may end up paying more in the long run if you do not pay it completely off within those 12 months.

If you are in need of any advice regarding unsecured debt, check out Nationwide Debt Reduction Services

There are so many small ways to grab a few extra dollars to stash! It may take a little extra time for math and planning and you'll need a notebook to keep track of some things but, it gets much easier after you're used to it! Just set some goals, sign up for some programs and you'll start seeing savings and money (or gift cards) coming in that you can use to save or for whatever you choose. 

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