A new year is staring us in the face. What will YOU do to save money this year? It’s no secret Americans are bad at saving. Just take a look at the stats: the Federal Reserve says that 47 percent of people don’t even have enough money to cover an emergency expense of just $400. Even worse: only 14 percent of Americans have more than $10,000 saved up.
It’s time to make a savings resolution for the new year. If your savings account is on the lean side, you already know that you have to come up with a monthly budget and trim the fat – or the café lattes, as it were. But here are some more helpful tips.
- Get a side job. OK, maybe you already work full time and don’t really relish the idea of tacking more hours onto your work week. But if you approach this second job as a side hustle instead, it will actually be enjoyable and maybe even something you love. Write on Kickstarter, drive an Uber, sell crafts on Etsy, write an e-book, evaluate websites with sites like UserTesting, or get involved in affiliate marketing. These all involve low startup costs so you can sock away all your earnings into a conservative investment plan or emergency fund savings account.
- Call your credit card companies and negotiate. Got lots of cards with high interest rates? Call each one to see if you can get your interest rate lowered, even by a few points. Everything is negotiable these days, and with so many people defaulting on their credit card bills, those companies would rather take less cash from you than risk no cash. If you can’t get a lower rate, switch to another credit card at 0 percent or consolidate your loans.
- Resist the impulse to spend your tax refund. With tax time coming up, you’ll feel temptation to use that refund for a trip, new clothes or something else you really don’t need. Instead, make a commitment to putting it straight into savings, or at least the majority of it. If you see that you’re getting too big of a refund in April, ask your HR department to lower your tax withholdings so you’re not giving the government free access to your money through the year. This way, you’ll get a little more in your paycheck all year long, when you really need it.
- Sit down with a financial planner or stock broker. Putting away a little bit every pay period into a savings or investment plan is a painless way to put aside money. Just be sure to research every recommendation that comes your way, and always keep a securities fraud attorney close just in case.
With these simple strategies, you can do your part to save cash and end up with a nice chunk of change at the end of the year. Keep it going to build a retirement nest egg or college fund for your kids.