A new year typically brings resolutions, and for many, it could be a good time to refocus personal budgets. The big question: Where to start? CNBC came up with a few helpful ideas, and AARP has 99 other options for you to consider throughout the year.
1. Evaluate the cost of convenience
Yes, it may be easier to buy a coffee on your way to work, rather than purchasing a to-go cup at the store and making your own cup of joe at home. But, think about it — say you pay $2 every weekday you stop for coffee, but it costs you $1 to make it at home. You could end up saving $20 per month, totaling about $250 a year. If you like that idea, then consider cutting back on other conveniences for more potential cost savings. From eating lunch out daily, to using ride shares instead of public transportation, there’s bound to be many ways to save.
2. Try the zero spend challenge
You might think “If I don’t buy it today, I’ll buy it tomorrow,” but Zero Day Finance says the zero spend strategy will actually help. The founder says he sets aside certain days during which he avoids buying anything, including a morning coffee. Yes, you can still drink and eat — just have what you bought during your weekly grocery run. Cut out the impulse buying and discretionary spending. In all, the 26-year-old founder said he saved $18,000 in one year. (Full disclosure, he said he was spending a lot before he started the challenge that he turned into a game.)
3. Rethink what’s in your shopping cart
Just because it is in your cart doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Take supersaver Cherie Lowe for example. She told CNBC, “Every time you check out at the grocery store, you need to look in your cart and find three to five items that you don’t need. You will save $5 to $10 every time you shop without cutting a single coupon.” She says the same thing applies to your online shopping cart.