One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to save more money and spend less. That may seem easy said than done, but if you put together a smart budget plan, you’d be surprised how a little cutting back adds up to a lot of money in the bank when 2013 rolls around.
Here are three easy tips to making sure your 2012 stays in the black.
1. Track your expenses. Although it can seem like it, money never just “disappears”. One of the biggest initial challenges is to understand what you’re spending your money on, so that you can spot places to cut back and save. The best way to start is by tracking every dollar that comes in and out of your bank account for at least two months: that includes bills, daily expenses, debts paid and debts incurred. Only by having a realistic account of where your money goes can you start to find ways to put more of it away.
2. Cut the credit. Credit cards are the number one budget killer for American families because it’s so easy to swipe it and forget it from your monthly budget. It can be difficult sometimes to leave the cards at home and make do with the money you have, but you’ll quickly find that not using the card teaches you another valuable budgeting lesson: learning how to save for the big expenses that are worth it.
3. Pay yourself first. Do you ever notice how payday usually turns into “spend” day? It seems like the moment that paycheck hits your account, the money is going right back out. Instead, try direct debiting your paycheck to your savings account and then transferring only the amount you need for bills and daily spending to your checking. Even if there’s only a hundred or less left over, you’d be surprised how quickly it adds up if you do it every month.
In today’s economy, creating a budget is more important than ever. Putting a little aside not only keeps your family healthy and secure in the future, but can also help you pay for the things that really matter – like a safe and secure apartment or home for your family.