By Bobbi Burger Brunoehler of Bobbisbargains.
It’s the beginning of a new year and a great time to assess my financial actions and make new budgetary policy. Here are my top five financial New Year’s resolutions:
1. Make a separate gasoline fund for each car. As gas prices go up and the number of drivers and cars in my family also rises, the money I am spending on gasoline is getting out of control. Personally, I am very good at looking at my errands and piggybacking them for the most efficient route. However, the rest of the family (especially the teenagers) are not as driven to do this as I am. I am going to get them more motivated by giving them a certain amount of gas money per week to get to classes and run errands. After that cash is gone, they will have to pay for the gas with their own money, take the bus, or stay home. This resolution has the most complexities to it, but I really want to get the gas expenses under control.
2. Make weekly menu plans and only grocery shop with lists. During the time periods of my life that I have done this, I have not only saved money but I have lost weight. Just walking around the store and picking up stuff I think I need always leads to too much cheese, too many carbs, too much sugar and too much cost. Sure, I do also pick up random fruits and veggies, but too often they rot in the fridge because the family reaches for the expensive and unhealthy items first.
3. Schedule at least one hour a week that is dedicated to financial planning. This time can be spent balancing my checkbook, working on my budget, planning upcoming spending and talking to my family about our finances. This is a great time to work with the kids on balancing their own checkbooks and creating their own budgets.
4. Follow the great ideas from America’s Cheapest Family’s new book, Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half, such as looking high and low on the shelves for the best sales, buy prepackaged veggies instead of single items for a better unit price and purchasing fruits and veggies that are in season.
5. Use cash whenever possible. I used to only use cash for day to day spending, such as buying groceries, gas, and sundries. With prices rising, it became more comfortable to instead use my debit card. BUT, I believe that using plastic instead of cash is one of the main reasons that people blow their budget. If I only have twenty dollars in my pocket, I am less likely to purchase that $4.99 impulse buy. This is without a doubt the number one budget keeping tip that I can give anyone (including myself.)
Those are my financial resolutions. What do you think of my ideas? What are you going to do to improve your spending habits this year?