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I’m usually not the type to make a new year’s resolution. Mostly because I never seem to follow through on any of the promises I make to myself, I gave up on setting new goals for the new year long ago.
But this year past year has been an extremely challenging year for us financially. Starting in January, we struggled with our house payment going up $300 a month, then we paid $500+ for an exterminator in June to evict our carpenter ant tenants, followed by spending $5,500 in November to replace our garage door, furnace and water heater (yes, all of them broke during the same month!)
We had a solid plan to pay off a lot of our debt this year, just like we have the past two years — but life had other plans for us. Instead of accomplishing our extreme FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) goals, our financial hurdles this year had us cutting back our spending and dipping into our savings.
As we transition our calendar to the new year, I’m taking this opportunity for a fresh start. It’s time to get back on track with New Year’s Resolutions to save money.
How to Set New Year’s Resolutions that Stick
Entering a new year isn’t a magic pill that suddenly makes it easy to set and achieve your goals. While it is an excellent time to reflect on your life and consider making some positive changes, you’re going to be the same person on January 1st that you were on December 31st.
With that in mind, remember that you’re human and we all make mistakes. And that’s okay! Life isn’t perfect and sometimes everything breaks at once, making it hard to find a way out.
The key to making this year’s goals stick is to make them small and easily attainable. Saying “I’m going to save money by never going out to eat again!” or “This year, I’m giving up caffeine and sugar — no more soda or donuts for me!” isn’t the best idea.
But if you break your New Year’s Resolution down into realistic goals, there’s an excellent chance you’ll stick with it throughout the new year.
For instance, you’d have a better chance of keeping your resolution to saving money by never going out to eat again if you broke it down into smaller chunks. It might look something like this:
- I’m going to try one new recipe each week to build my collection of easy, go-to meals so I’m less tempted to hit the drive-thru on busy weeknights.
- I’ll start packing a lunch for work three days a week instead of buying lunch every day.
- I’ll keep quick and easy non-perishable snacks, like peanuts, almonds, and jerky in my car to save money by not buying food in the checkout lane when I’m out running errands.
To make resolutions you can keep, you’ll need to start small. There’s no need to feel overwhelmed by the constant need to reassess everything in your life. This year, pick one behavior to work on at a time and focus on that before moving along to the next one.
New Year’s Resolutions that Save You Money
- Make more meals at home
- Team up with friends who share similar financial goals
- Use CityPASS to get discount passes to top attractions when traveling
- Stick to a list when you go grocery shopping
- Pack a lunch to take to work
- Talk about money with your partner
- Fix old appliances instead of replacing them
- Mend your clothes instead of buying new
- Start living on a budget
- Participate in a savings challenge like this one
- Compare prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal
- Add to your retirement accounts to lower your taxable income
- Shop at discount stores
- Use an app like Acorns to save your spare change
New Year’s Resolutions to Make More Money
- Shop with apps like Ebates and Swagbucks to earn cashback
- Write and publish a Kindle eBook
- Ask your boss for a raise
- Make money from taking online surveys
- Collect a signup bonus from a new bank account like this one
- Get paid for losing weight with an app like HealthyWage
- Become an Airbnb host and rent out that extra room
- Start a side business, like driving for Uber or freelance writing
- Declutter and sell your stuff online with an app like LetGo
- Start a blog or YouTube channel to build income
- Invest your digital change with Acorns
- Become a Virtual Assistant
- Upgrade your resume and get a higher-paying job
- Rent out your clothes through a site like Style Lend
New Year’s Resolutions for a More Meaningful Life
- Express your creativity by making DIY jewelry and home décor
- Appreciate the progress you’ve already made in life
- Get stronger with workout apps like Sworkit or Aaptiv
- Start a gratitude journal
- Ask for help more often
- Join a community sports team
- Ease stress by setting up an emergency fund
- Start meditating with Headspace
- Spend more time with family
- Listen to TED Talks
- Forgive yourself and others for past mistakes
- Give more of your time and money to charity
- Practice being present in the moment
- Read more books
The critical thing to remember is that life isn’t perfect, and neither are you. As you’re working toward your goals, it’s okay to make a wrong turn or fall entirely off the wagon. Just don’t give up!
When you make a mistake, that’s a great time to reassess your options and get back on track. To move forward, think of the next best move you can make and do that. Because creating lasting change happens one tiny step at a time.
How will you make the new year your best year yet?
Amy Beardsley is a wife, mom to a teenager and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She’s always on the lookout for new ways to cut costs and increase income, without sacrificing comfort. She’s also a freelance writer who specializes in credit reporting, FinTech, and probate and estate planning topics. When Amy isn’t perfecting her budget spreadsheet, you can find her curled up with a good book or watching Marvel movies with her husband and daughter.