It can be easy to fall off track when saving up for special goals like a new home, a new car or a new addition to the household. It starts as dinners and drinks here, concerts and ball games there — and expenses can add up quickly. Before you know it, you've fallen behind on your savings plan. Don't despair, though — these clever tips for how to budget and save money may be just what you need to avoid spending temptation, achieve your financial goals and even grow your savings in the New Year.
1. Visualize Your Budgeting Goals
Are you working towards a tangible goal, such as a new car or dream vacation? If so, constant visual reminders of your goal will help you stick to your budget and inspire new ways to increase savings faster.
Print and post pictures of your budget goal at home and in the office. Tape a picture to the corner of your bathroom mirror and on the fridge door. Set your background on your phone or laptop to an image that inspires you. You'll be faced with reminders of what you're working towards everywhere you go.
2. Create Subtle Budgeting Reminders
Another tip for saving money in the New Year is to reset passwords on your digital devices to remind yourself of savings or debt-paying goals. If you want to pay off your $5,000 credit-card balance, set your password to something like "paydown$5000." If you're saving for a new home, set another password to "$10kdownpayment."
For security reasons, be careful not to use the same password for every device or online account. Instead, use multiple financial goals as password inspiration makes it more difficult for electronic hackers and fraudsters to get into your accounts. (As an added bonus, these passwords usually will have a combination of the letters, symbols and numbers often required by password generators.)
3. Celebrate Small Wins
Sticking to a budget and a savings plan is hard work, so celebrate small achievements. Celebrate small wins like paying off the first $1,000 of a $5,000 debt, or the first $500 saved towards your new car. To do this, add an entertainment fund as part of your budget. Even if this is only $20 a week, using budgeted savings to celebrate milestones in your long-term goals can help motivate you to stay committed to your savings and financial goals.
4. Avoid Routine Spending Temptations
Everyone has friends, places, and activities that tempt us into budget-busting territory. The best bet in these scenarios? Flat out avoid them.
Try and change your route to work to avoid the coffee shop selling $7 lattes you love, and bring coffee from home instead. Avoid going out for "just another drink" mentality, or you could be facing "just another" big bar tab that breaks the bank.
5. Lower Your Interest to Maximize Savings Opportunities
Take a look at your credit score. If it's good, call your lenders to ask about qualifying for reduced rates on your loans, credit lines and even credit cards. If your credit isn't great, don’t worry—consider opening a low-interest credit card and transferring higher balances to it to reduce interest. This will help you meet debt repayment goals faster, simplify monthly payments and reduce your chance of missing a payment.
Don't get discouraged when pursuing financial goals, even if they seem out of reach. Small hiccups may happen along the way, but stick with it, try one or more of these budgeting tips— your progress this New Year may surprise you.