Have you set your goals for the New Year yet? While I’m continually setting goals, there is something exciting about a New Year upon us. A fresh start, a new beginning, a change of pace. While my goals for this next year are a tad simpler than in years’ past, there’s one goal my husband and I both are going to enact into our daily lives, and that’s saving money.
My husband and I are naturally savers, but the last half of this year has really gotten the best of us. We’re back into our weekly Starbucks habit, I haven’t budgeted for a grocery store trip in months and I’ve impulse bought more times than I’d care to admit. Thankfully, none of these bad habits have resulted in debt. But they have resulted in us having significantly less in savings than we could have had.
You live and learn—so there’s no point in rehashing all that we did wrong. Instead, we’re focusing on the future and what we can change in order to save more money.
Here are 8 easy ways we plan to save money in 2016.
Meal-plan. I have had many, many weeks where I’ve forgotten to plan out our meals. We usually have frozen pizza and pasta readily available, but let’s face it, we’re not always in the mood for processed food or starches. I vow to make 2016 the year of cooking. I want to feed my family healthy, delicious foods for each and every meal. I plan on going further into this in future posts, so stay tuned. And along those lines, has anyone tried out eMeals? They send you recipes and shopping lists for just a few dollars per month.
Set savings goals. John and I used to set goals when it came to saving, but the past six months or so we’ve just saved whatever we felt like with no real outcome in mind. While we still saved, we spent way more than necessary. In 2016, our goal is to save all of our side money (freelancing and blogging money for me; handyman work for him), in addition to 50 percent of my income from my full-time job.
Keep the thermostat one degree lower. Last winter, we paid upwards of $200 for our gas bill each month, and I was still freezing cold. Luckily, our new home is better insulated, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to pay more than necessary. I want to be comfortable, but I can keep warm by wearing layers, snuggling with my family and sitting by the fire. All of those are cheaper than turning up the heat.
Shop around for car insurance. Where you live affects the price of your car insurance more than you would think. If you live in a high cost of living area, such as New Jersey or California, it’s going to be even more important to shop around. Saving money on car insurance is one of the easiest ways to lower your monthly expenses. Plus, car insurance companies are notorious for raising rates every couple of years, so if you’re not actively shopping for new rates, you could be losing out. That’s why my husband and I plan to complete a thorough car insurance comparison in our home state of North Carolina.
Enjoy free things in our city. We’ve lived in Charlotte for almost 1 ½ years now. While January and February are bitter cold, the rest of this year is totally manageable. The weather is one of the things I love most about Charlotte! In 2016, we’re going to take advantage of free, outdoor activities that the city has to offer. Parks, playing outside, libraries, free museums, free outdoor concerts, festivals, and more. It seems like Charlotte has a few free activities going on each weekend, and this year I’m determined to keep up with all the fun happenings!
Make more money. Personally, I think the best way to save more money is to earn more money. Many long-time readers know that I have three ways in which I bring in an income: My full-time job, freelancing (here’s my post on how to be a freelancer) and blogging (see how to start a profitable blog). My goal is to make $10K per month by October 2016 through freelancing and blogging. Most, if not all, of this money will go straight into savings.
Cook more. This is different than meal-planning, as I really want to actually cook and bake more, not just plan out our meals. I envision myself baking our own bread, having fresh-baked cookies after school for the girls, making homemade dressings and sauces, and more. This is time-consuming, for sure, but it will both save us money and allow us to eat healthier.
Continue living without cable. We cut cable in 2014 when we moved to North Carolina. Now, we have a very basic package with just the core channels (basically, this just replaced our inconsistent antenna). We pay $55 per month for that and our internet service. While John misses watching every sports game and I wouldn’t mind a little HGTV in my life, that is just not an expense we’re going to add to our monthly budget. If this changes (as John has a say, too), I will let you know.
How do you plan on saving money in 2016?