Save Differently This Year
Save Differently This Year
By Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA
Kick off the New Year with a mantra of always being two steps ahead of where you are supposed to be. When I say that I mean commit to planning even more so than you normally do, financially. Consider every aspect of your life that requires money: your commute to work, your eating habits at home and at work, your extracurricular activities, everything. Go through all of these expenses with a fine tooth comb and think about how you could do better.
Because one of the weakest links in my budget is gift giving, I am going to suggest you start there. Go beyond having an allocation for gifts (or not – like me) and, if you can, take advantage of the after Christmas sales. Pick up items that you can gift throughout the year. Toys will be super inexpensive over the next few weeks, followed by home furnishing and accessories sales in February.
In addition to preplanning for gift giving, kick your personal budget up a notch by reconsidering how you see your emergency fund. Consider going beyond the one generic account for all emergencies, and set up one or two more accounts for events like automobile or household repairs that you know are likely to occur especially if you have an older model car or home.
As you begin to gather your W2s and other tax receipts for the 2009 tax filing season, think about whether you will get a tax refund this year. If so, and it is significant, consider adjusting your withholdings so that you can spend your money during the year rather than waiting until tax time. I know some people look forward to receiving a tax refund each year, but you should really think long and hard about how much better you could be living during the year by taking home an additional $50 to $75 per pay period. Furthermore, if you took that $50 to $75 and invested it, even a measly 2 percent interest rate, would be more than the big fat zero percent return that you are getting now.
Besides making plans to do some things differently this year, it is also a good time for you reevaluate where you are with other things. Take automobile insurance companies up on their offers for free rate quotes and see if you’d be better off switching to a new provider. The same goes for homeowner’s insurance and even savings accounts. If there is a better rate somewhere else, don’t hesitate to move on.
If you have kids that you need to schedule summer camps for, jump on it now. Talk with other parents and look out for guides to see what is available and whether there is a discount for signing up early.
Be smarter in 2010, put all of your cards on the table and don’t be afraid to reevaluate your needs and walk if you need to. In this economy we can’t afford to stand still. Every service, every dime and every dollar is negotiable.
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