By Lynda Mason
The dawn of a new year is always exciting. For one thing, it offers a fresh opportunity to break bad habits and think about new ways to make our own lives better. Some people decide to eat healthier or visit the gym more often. Others decide to spend more time with loved ones, or make an effort to contribute to the community. But, if there’s one change we all can benefit from, it’s saving a little more.
Inflation, rising gas prices, and supply chain hold-ups are driving up costs across the board, making it harder for regular people to pay for everyday goods and services. In fact, consumer prices are higher than they have been in 40 years. Reducing spending and putting more into your savings can help balance these challenges, and can help you maintain financial stability in the coming months and years.
While certain spending is necessary, luckily, there are a number of simple solutions to help reduce expenses and build up your savings, without making major lifestyle changes or requiring significant effort. Here are a few useful tips for cutting costs in 2022, ensuring your financial goals aren’t thrown off as a result of the current economic climate.
Monitor your subscriptions
Subscription services are incredibly popular, but there may be a few, or even several, you can cancel. Whether it’s Netflix, Amazon Prime, Blue Apron, Spotify, or even magazines, there are subscription services for virtually every need. Although many of these services are fairly affordable on their own, it’s easy to forget about how many subscriptions you have and how quickly they can add up in your monthly expenses. Some people have so many subscriptions they forget about some of them altogether, leading them to waste money on services they don’t use. Cancelling unused or rarely used subscriptions is one of the quickest ways to cut costs. If you subscribe to multiple similar services, consider whether you actually use and need both or all of them. Additionally, sharing services with family is a great way to reduce monthly costs. Many services have individual and family plans that allow you to save on the overall expense. Many also offer savings if you pay up-front for the year. If you can afford that one-time larger payment, it’s a way to reduce your monthly spending even more.
Keep an eye out for deals
After two years of stale growth, many businesses are attempting to draw in new customers by offering specials and sales. While mail has historically been a primary source for receiving coupons or promotional items, digital resources like social media and email have become more popular and many retailers have shifted to digital coupons. It’s easy to disregard many advertising campaigns as nuisances but, there can be many great deals out there for products or services you purchase on a regular basis. Be aware of promotions your favorite businesses are running; you may be able to find great deals to support your budget.
Free digital resources
Almost everyone has access to a smart phone or a computer, which means anyone can take advantage of a wide range of digital resources to make better financial decisions. For instance, as gas prices rise, many people will go out of their way to find the lowest price when they need to fill up. Apps like GasBuddy and Waze make it easy to determine which stations offer the lowest prices, without a fee. In fact, app stores are flooded with price-checking resources to help you save on everyday goods. Consider checking them out. There are also digital savings apps, like Plinqit, which can help you stick to your saving goals. The Milford Bank has partnered with Plinqit to make it simple.
Track Your Spending Habits
Cash used to be king, but digital payments are quickly becoming the norm. They can also provide greater visibility into your spending habits (and debit/credit cards can provide a layer of purchase protection cash can’t). Using your online banking account, you can consolidate your weekly and monthly purchases to analyze how much you’re spending and on what. If you find you’re spending too much on certain items, you can consider cutting or reducing them from your budget to see how much can be added to your savings. Analyzing your purchasing habits is a great way to make smarter spending decisions, and can keep you on the right path for financial stability. There are also plenty of online tools for tracking your weekly or monthly spending. You can also use a spreadsheet. Regardless of how you do it, tracking you spending is a great step in setting and sticking to a reasonable budget that will help you save.
It’s common for people to make New Year’s resolutions, but incredibly rare for them to follow through for the entire year. But nothing good comes easily and success requires work and dedication to see positive results. Cutting unnecessary spending may seem easy, but it should be a priority. Plus, once you’ve done it, you may be surprised at how little you miss those things you’ve cut out. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised at how quickly small reductions in spending can add up. Even if you think you’re comfortable with your monthly spending, saving more may help you fund larger expenses, like vacations, college tuition, home improvement projects, and more. Regardless of what you are saving for, consider these tips to help make it a little easier. And if you need advice, your local bank’s specialists are always happy to offer their advice.