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It’s the start of a new year and the best time to resolve to do things better – especially when it comes to finances.
When it comes to money, we either have it, or we don’t, or don’t get to keep it. To help you achieve your 2017 financial goals, here are a few tips on how to get your savings on track in the first 10 days of the year.
Day 1: Start building your emergency fund.
Think of it this way – if you unexpectedly lose your job for whatever reason today, will you be able to survive for at least 6 months on your savings?
Your emergency fund should be equivalent to at least 6 to 12 months of income. If you lose your job, this will give you a sufficient amount to live on until you find a new one.
Day 2: Work on a zero-based budget.
If you have a fixed income, use that amount and allocate each cent to a category such as groceries or car maintenance. Every item that you need should be assigned to a category – down to the last cent. Every time you need to spend something, use only what you’ve budgeted for that category.
At the end of the month, each cent should have been spent for a specific purpose – even savings. You end up with zero leftovers – and zero debt. When the next month comes, repeat the cycle.
Day 3: Clean out your closet.
Would your daily routine be faster and easier if your closet had less clutter and was more organized? If you answered yes, then it’s time to check what needs throwing out, giving away, or keeping.
Chances are, your closet is filled with clothes and shoes that don’t fit anymore or are already worn out. If you haven’t used them in a year, then decluttering your wardrobe will make your life less stressful.
Day 4: Stop collecting. Start selling.
From used clothes to old furniture, there are many items around the house that you can earn from while creating more livable space to move around in. You may want to start with old Blu-Ray movies you’ve watched more than a dozen times, used books that have been passed from one family member to another, or shoes that your feet have outgrown.
There’s hidden money in the things that you’ve accumulated through the years but are just gathering dust. Have a garage sale. Sell them online – then put the earnings in your emergency fund or your zero-based budget.
Day 5: Plan your meals at the start of the week.
Have you ever been at your wit’s end figuring out what’s for lunch or dinner? If you’re tired of the same old dishes served over and over again, take a moment to sit down at the start of the week to plan out your menu.
This helps you organize your shopping list when you buy ingredients, and prevents you from randomly buying items that end up unused in your cupboard. It also ensures a wider variety of healthy dishes that you can savor throughout the week.
Day 6: Bring packed meals to work.
After you’ve planned out your grocery list and menu, start bringing your home-cooked meals to work for your lunch breaks. Doing this at least 3 times a week can help you cut down on dining expenses.
Never mind those nasty looks from coworkers who think you’re too stingy. They eat out now, but pay later – and it’s going to be a big price to pay if they end up without any savings later in life. What you want is to be able to eat nutritious meals without boring a hole in your pocket.
Day 7: Indulge in a debt diet.
If you avoid diets because they keep you from the things you love, this is one diet you can indulge in. If you hate debt, then stay away from it. When you see that nice pair of shoes on a payday weekend sale or that latest mobile phone in the market, think twice before you whip out your credit card.
If you didn’t plan for it in your zero-based budget, don’t buy it. Using your credit card gives you a false sense of security that you can easily pay for it later. Reality check: you usually can’t, and you usually end up paying for the item with interest, which will cost you a whole lot more than if you had bought something with cash you’ve set aside.
Day 8: Automate your savings.
If you haven’t started setting aside at least 20% of your income every month for savings, then there’s no better time to start than now. Some companies allow their employees to make investments automatically by deducting a specified amount from their paychecks. This “forced savings” takes away the temptation to spend your entire income by putting a portion of it in an investment of your choice – even before you receive your paycheck.
If your company doesn’t have this option yet, ask a financial advisor about how you can have your company offer this to employees.
Day 9: Invest in health insurance.
You can work and enjoy life only as much as your body allows you to. As early as you can, start building a fund that can provide for medical needs all throughout your life. It makes sense to do this while you’re healthy and in your working years when you’re still eligible for health insurance. It’s more difficult and expensive to apply when you already have a medical condition and can’t sustain the payment of premiums.
Day 10: Exercise at home.
How many times have you tried renewing your gym membership only to waste your annual fees because you don’t go as often as you need to?
You can get the full benefits of a gym workout right in the comfort of your own home. Check out videos on YouTube that match your level of fitness. There are 30- to 60-minute exercise and dance videos that use basic or no equipment – just body weight – and can build up your strength, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness without breaking the bank.
Jumpstart your savings as soon as possible. The benefits that you reap in the long term will make your life easier, happier, and stress-free. – Rappler.com
Anne Sarte is a freelance copywriter who also blogs about savings, investments, and protection at nestegg.ph.