I was shocked to read that Americans planned to spend an average of $830 on holiday gifts this past season. Afraid that I had gone overboard, I immediately added up the money I spent on gifts. Although I hadn't reached the $830 mark, I still felt that I pushed the limits of my budget.
Luckily, I stumbled upon a quote by financial expert, Jean Chatzky. She says, "you can recover from any financial problem by saving more."
I thought to myself, what a relief!
Well, not so fast. It turns out that trying to rake in a "few extra dollars," is much easier said than done. But, it can be done. Some new strategies that I plan to implement in 2016 can hopefully help you to save more money, and start improving your finances in 2016, too.
1. Look at last year's savings (if possible). Bump up monthly contributions!
Do you know how much money you save each month? Can you increase your monthly savings? When I looked at my monthly income, and how much I spend, I realized that I actually can afford to save a bit more. Many financial experts recommend saving at least 10 percent of your net monthly income each month. If you can do that, awesome! If you need to start with a lower percentage, and increase over time, that works, too. As long as you're saving something.
2. Set up a budget...that works.
I don't know how many times I have tried to stick to a budget, and failed. Having a budget is a financial tip that you hear over and over and over. It wasn't until recently that I found a strategy that actually worked for me. Just when I was about to give up on budgeting altogether, I found the 50/20/30 rule. For me this method of budgeting works wonders, and the lesson learned here is: If your first budget didn't work, don't give up! Try a new strategy!
How the 50/20/30 rule works
The 50/20/30 divides your budget into 3 main categories (instead of 50 small ones).
50% of your net monthly income is for fixed expenses. This includes monthly expenses that don't vary. For example: rent, car payment, utilities, and monthly subscriptions.
20% of your net monthly income is for financial goals that will help you secure a financial foundation. For example: paying down debt, saving money, and saving for retirement.
30% of your net monthly income is for flexible spending. This includes monthly expenses that may vary from month to month, like groceries, gas, hobbies, entertainment, etc.
3. Start saving change.
This is the 2-Liter bottle that I plan to fill up with dimes. When it's full, it will contain about $700. Imagine the possibilities. Change may seem like nothing, but it's not when you have $700 worth of dimes in a bottle!
4. Make monthly automatic transfer payments, to myself!
Whoever invented online automatic transfers is a genius, and thank you to them! If it weren't for automatic transfer payments, my entire paycheck would be sitting in my checking account, asking to be spent. Automatic transfer payments (from my checking account to my savings accounts) helps me to keep my hands off of my savings. Every month, I schedule payments from myself to myself, to make sure I'm saving money! P.s. You can set up automatic transfer payments from your online banking, at home!
5. Do a side thing.
Who says there is anything wrong with making money from a side hobby? If you have something that you love to do, and are good at, try making some extra "savings money" from it.
Those are my top 5 savings commitments for saving some extra money in 2016, and recovering from holiday spending! If you have any other creative savings ideas, leave a comment! I would love to hear new ideas. Also, if you want more savings tips, or tips on budgeting for 2016, leave a comment, or send an email to Spokester@youngfreemaine.com!
Take care everyone!