New Year, New Money

By Leina Ussin

The New Year is now upon us, and if you guys are anything like me, you’re striving to stick to your New Year goals and resolutions. Quite often, money finds its way as one of our goals since we’re trying to establish or maintain financial stability within our lives. We want more money in our savings accounts, assurance that our kids will be taken care of, or a safety net in case anything ever happens with our jobs. It really doesn’t matter what your reasoning is behind this, but the steps you take do.

Before anyone puts themselves on a Ramen noodle diet trying to save an outrageous amount of money this year, the first thing I recommend is creating a financial plan for yourself. Write down all your bills, necessities, and things you like to treat yourself too. Now, compare this to your monthly income. Some of you may realise that one is outweighing the other! For those who find themselves cutting it close with money left over for the month, take a look first, at your bills.

You’d be surprised at how many ways you could cut costs there. For those who have cable and internet, look into ways to cheapen your subscription. You might be paying for channels or even internet speeds that you don’t need! There are several ways to save money on electricity such as energy-saving light bulbs. Yes, they are a little bit more expensive than your traditional light bulbs, but they use less energy, saving you in the end! Blackout curtains are also a lifesaver! They decrease the amount of heat that enters your home from windows, and your AC isn’t working harder to keep your home cool.

Now, these are just suggestions for those who may not want to cut back on those monthly things they treat themselves too. Massages, pedicures, manicures, facials, etc, these are the things that make working and paying bills worth it. But, if you find this is where the majority of your spending is going, re-evaluate your priorities. For example, I am a fanatic when it comes to getting my nails done! But, I also realised that I was spending a minimum of $700 (R10 060,12) on my nails a year, and to some, that may not seem like a lot!

But when I sat down and went over my financial goals, I realised that was money I could be setting aside for my family and our future. Now, I’m not saying my nails won’t get done this year! I’m just being more conscious of how often I am treating myself!

Now, for those who find themselves having money left over after they’ve paid their monthly expenses, that’s amazing! But don’t just let that money sit there! Make sure your current bank is working in your favor! If your checking or your savings account isn’t growing interest on your money, then you need to reconsider who you’re banking with! I would also suggest looking into stocks and bonds! If the money is just sitting there, invest it into a business that will do all the work for you. This is also something you can consult with your bank about.

Apps like Swagbucks and Acorn can also be useful if you’re looking for other ways to save money on the side. I’ve personally used Acorn before and was shocked at how much money I was able to save in a short amount of time. Acorn works by taking small amounts from your account and placing it into a saving. Before you freak, when I say small, I mean small! Amounts you never even notice. And when you go to check your Acorn account, the amount will satisfy you, I promise.

Another little savings trick I used last year was saving every $5 (R71,79) bill I got back as change from a purchase. It seems a little tedious, but I saved over $300 (R4 311,18) last year by doing this. Some people also save all their change and cash out at the end of the year.

Remember, these are just simple tips that can help you save here and there. But every little bit helps. The most important thing that you can remember is to, once again, be realistic! Don’t set an unobtainable financial goal for yourself within a short amount of time. You don’t want to break your back, or not live your life because you’re penny-pinching! Financial stability is important, but is no excuse not to enjoy each day of your life!

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