It’s far too easy to blow your budget over the holiday season.
Between the presents, the parties and the travel, all of your merry-making can leave you seeing red in the new year.
But there’s good news: the start of a new year is also a great time to get your savings goals back on track.
Here are a few easy, fairly painless ways you can get a new saving plan started in 2014!
Lose the “latte factor”
Financial expert David Bach, author of the best-selling Finish Rich books, advises everyone to determine their “latte factor.” Your personal “latte factor” refers to the small, seemingly insignificant items you purchase on a regular basis, such as a daily coffee from Starbucks. These items may have small price tags, but when purchased periodically they really add up. You could buy café lattes five days at $3.50 a pop, or you could choose to save that money — which adds up to over $900 a year — in an interest-bearing account. Saving money is the same thing as making money, so it’s a good idea to look at where you’re bleeding extra cash — such as daily coffees, cigarettes, unused gym memberships, etc. — to consider what you might be able to cut out.
Kick off a year of fun savings
Here’s a fun way to watch your savings grow: start the year off by depositing one dollar in a savings account. The next week, deposit two dollars. On the third week, deposit three. On the fourth week of the year, deposit four dollars and so on, upping the amount you deposit each week by one dollar until by the 52nd week of the year, you’re making a 52-dollar deposit. If you save this way all year long, you’ll end up accumulating $1,378 — that’s a great start to a savings or retirement fund. And the best part is that the weekly deposits are so minimal that you’ll likely never miss the cash.
Pay yourself after you pay off a debt
It feels good to write that final monthly installment check for a car loan or credit card balance. If you want to amp up your savings, keep writing those monthly checks after the debt’s paid off — but route them to a savings or investment account.
Put your savings on autopilot
Financial experts often advise that you “pay yourself first” each month, meaning the first thing you should do with your paycheck is to siphon off as much as you can afford to save and then sock that money away.
It’s a great strategy, but, unfortunately, many people can’t stick to it. They’re too tempted to spend their paychecks right away.
If you fall into that category, do yourself a favor and take advantage of automatic deductions. You can use your online banking account to have a certain amount automatically transferred to savings on the days you get your checks. If you have an employer that offers a 401K account, you can also choose to have retirement funds deducted from your paychecks before they ever hit your checking account. Automatic deductions make being disciplined about saving a lot easier.
Saving money doesn’t have to be so painful. Adopting just a few of these simple strategies can help you save thousands of dollars this year. You’ll find that, after you get into the habit of saving, the experience isn’t quite as painful as you feared.
Happy New Year — and happy saving!
Photo credit: Shutterstock / pogonici