Just because February is almost here doesn’t mean you should already be neglecting to improve your finances. In fact, no matter your resolutions (or if you’ve already abandoned them), it’s always a good idea to work on your finances.
If you’re looking for ways to tweak your budget to better effect this year, then here are some strategies you can follow to spend less and save more:
1. Factor in Infrequent Expenses
One of the biggest pitfalls of budgeting is forgetting about infrequent expenses. I have some expenses that are only paid quarterly, or perhaps once a year. It’s easy to forget to include them in the budget, especially if I come up with the budget during a month when I’m not making the payment. The fix is easy though.
As you tweak your budget this year, spend the extra bit of time to look ahead for infrequent expenses and include them. I like to break mine down into monthly costs so that they are accounted for. I also ensure that the money is already there when they are withdrawn from my account.
2. Don’t Count on Irregular Income
Many of us like to look ahead and estimate our income. Unfortunately, we often over-estimate what is coming in. We rely on our estimates too heavily whether it’s a bonus at work or a tax refund or some other windfall. Instead of factoring future income into your budget, consider pretending it doesn’t exist. That way, when you do get a windfall, you can bank that instead of spending the sum. This way, you don’t end up in trouble if the extra money doesn’t appear like you thought it would.
3. Boost Your Savings
You can also use more no matter how much you’re setting aside, so look for ways to boost your savings. Even an extra $15 a week can help in the long run. Consider changing how much is taken from your paycheck and contribute it to your retirement account. You can also put more in your emergency fund. Just make a small tweak to the amount to make a difference down the road.
4. Check into Your Subscriptions
When was the last time you reviewed your subscriptions? I’m not getting rid of the Netflix subscription, because I use it, but I finally dumped that gym membership in favor of a punch card at the municipal pool. I’m saving money AND getting involved in exercise I actually enjoy. Look at where your money is going on a monthly basis. If you aren’t using subscriptions, change things up so you aren’t spending on what you no longer use.
5. Review Your Insurance
Every six months, before renewal, I do a quick comparison of my insurance policies. Could I be saving more elsewhere? If it looks like I can get a better quote someplace else, I let my insurer know and ask for a match. In many cases, I get it. Take a few minutes to see where you stand. If you haven’t changed your insurance for a few years, you might be surprised at what’s available and how much a quick search can save you.
6. Sign Up for Cash Back Site
If you aren’t using a cash back site, now’s a good time to do so. Sign up for Ebates and Swagbucks to get some of your purchase-price back. Between these sites, plus my use of a rewards credit card to pay, I end up with serious savings overall. Yes, you want to spend less, but you also want to get a little back for the spending you do.
What budget tweaks are you making this year?