Every New Year’s Eve, millions of people pledge to make the next year better. Exercise more. Eat more vegetables. Watch less TV. Save more money. Each resolution can be tough to tackle on its own. While we can’t send you broccoli or salads, we can help you save some money.
Money hacks for more savings
Check out our list of money hacks and tips to stick to your financial goals this year.
1. Create a monthly budget
You might be surprised at how much money you spend on unintentional purchases. Write down everything you spend in a month to get started creating a budget. A budget will help you know whether you're spending too much for the month in a certain area.
2. Switch to a prepaid phone plan
The average cell phone plan costs $99 a month. For huge savings, switch to a prepaid phone plan. Plans start as low as $15 a month, and you can get national coverage and unlimited data. Stream Netflix and play as many hours of Fortnite and Candy Crush as you want.
3. Use an online-only bank
Unlike traditional banks, an online bank may be less flexible with transactions. Withdrawing money can require more effort or you may have to wait a few days for the money to transfer. But it might be more tempting to keep the money in your savings if it’s more difficult to take out.
4. Compare homeowners insurance
We tend to get comfortable with our current insurance policies, and it's important to shop around every year. Your current home or condo insurance rate is likely increasing each year, and you might not realize it until you compare it to another company that offers a more affordable rate.
5. Make cash king / Use cash for everything
Swiping a credit card or debit card is the easiest way to spend money because you don't actually see the money being spent. If you stick to cash transactions, you'll have to hand over every bill you spend — and you might think twice before going for that impulse buy.
6. Shop for auto insurance
Auto insurance is one of those bills that's easy to "set it and forget it," but sticking with the same insurance company might actually be costing you money. Shopping for and comparing auto insurance rates once a year ensures you always have the best rate.
7. Give the gift of yourself
It's wonderful to give gifts to family and friends for holidays and special occasions. But this year consider giving yourself as a gift. Arrange a day at the park or a trip to the nearest museum where material possessions aren't the focus.
8. Check your need for internet speed
Internet speeds offered today are lightning-fast, but do you actually need the stratospheric speeds – and huge prices? Think about how you really use the internet and how many connected devices you have at home.
9. Stop buying bottled water
Almost 20,000 plastic bottles of water are purchased every second around the world. Not only do those bottles contribute to waste, but they also drain your wallet. Consider buying a reusable bottle and filling it with clean, filtered water from your home.
10. Buy used whenever possible
When it comes to things like clothing and small electronics, buying used can save you tons of money. Thrift stores, smartphone apps like OfferUp and Poshmark, and websites like Craigslist have great selections and deals.
11. Make a grocery store list
When you go to the grocery store with a list in your head, you'll no doubt come out of the store with double the amount of items you intended to buy. Not only does it set you up for wasting food, but it also wastes money. Make a grocery list and stick to it.
12. Perform your own car maintenance
Even if you aren’t an automotive expert, you can save money by performing some car maintenance tasks yourself. You don't need to go to the dealership to have your windshield wipers replaced, and you can skip paying someone $20 to wash your car.
13. Check on your gym membership
When was the last time you went to the gym? If you use your gym membership only a few times a month or less, it might be time to cancel your membership. If you aren’t ready to cancel, ask your gym if they have a pay-as-you-go plan that could save you money.
14. Review your credit card interest rates
When was the last time you read your credit card statement beyond checking the balance and your minimum payment? Look at the interest rates on your credit cards and prioritize payments on the card with the highest interest rate.
15. Avoid pay-to-play smartphone apps
Smartphone apps are often free to download but cost money to play, and it's easy to get in the habit of paying a few dollars a day to pay for an app. Try to avoid paying for any app for a month and stick to apps that are totally free.
16. Don't double up on insurance with a car rental
Need to rent a car? Before you buy the extra car rental insurance coverage, check your own personal policy. You may already be covered to drive a rental car.
17. Stream smart to save
Do you have Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix? Are you thinking about getting the CBS app, downloading NBC's Peacock, or getting additional streaming services? Make sure you're actually using those services before you start a new subscription.
18. Don't avoid the doctor
When you skip your dental appointment to save $100 on a cleaning, you set yourself up for higher costs in the future when a cavity rages out of control, and you end up having to get a root canal or a crown. Keep up with those appointments now to avoid huge costs later.
19. Buy reusable coffee pods
Plastic one-time-use coffee pods are rapidly filling up landfills, and they're making a fair dent in your wallet. Did you know there are refillable, reusable coffee pods for your home brewing system? Get your favorite coffee in a less-expensive and eco-friendly format.
20. Look for balance transfer offers
A new credit card with a low, introductory balance-transfer offer might be a smart solution to reduce the amount of money you pay each month on credit card interest. Check your current and future cards for balance transfer offers and potential savings.
21. Stop paying bank account fees
If your bank charges you monthly fees for a checking account, consider switching banks. There are banks that offer fee-free accounts without minimum balance requirements.
Bonus: Don't give up your morning latte
You’ve heard it a million times: cut out your morning latte and save. But if that routine of getting a cup of coffee from your local barista is something you love, there's no reason to eliminate it from your life. Enjoying the small things in life is priceless.
Make 2021 your best financial year ever
Making reasonable changes to your daily and monthly spending can offer dramatic results over the course of the year, but it's important to balance the art of saving money with the enjoyment of fun activities like getting your morning latte, paying a bit extra for the UFC pay-per-view event, or getting your favorite appetizer on your weekly date night. Enjoy life, and save your money wisely.