Money Saving Ideas for the New Year

With another Jan. 1 here yet again, now’s the time of the year that you, like many others, may start to be thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes these entail losing weight or spending more time with family. For many, resolutions include getting our finances in shape. A critical factor in reaching our financial goals is keeping our spending in check. Here are money saving ideas for the new year.

Track Your Expenses

One of the most important steps in saving money is to understand what you’re spending it on. There are many online programs you can use such as mobile budgeting tools and tax software. These programs can link to your bank accounts and help you capture where your money is going — and how much of it is going there. Armed with this information, you can then look for places to reduce your spending.

Review Your Mobile Phone Plan

Mobile phone plans are complex, and there are many features and options available. It’s a good idea to review your plan annually to see if it still fits your needs or if you can find a different plan with a provider that’s cheaper and a better fit. There’s a lot of competition among providers, which can lead to some good deals if you shop around.

Refinance Your Mortgage

If you own a home or condominium, interest rates are still low and you may be able to save quite a bit on your monthly payment by refinancing your mortgage. That said, make sure you understand all costs and fees associated with a new loan to be sure that you’re truly getting a better deal. According to CNBC, 7 million homeowners have not taken advantage of the historically low rates we’ve seen for several years, leaving billions of dollars on the table. Take a look at your current mortgage and shop around to see if refinancing makes sense for you.

Consolidate Student Loans

If you have large amounts of student loan debt, you know that these monthly payments can be a real financial burden. Depending on the type of loan, your income and other factors, you may be able to refinance some or all of your loans and lower your overall payment. The federal government offers a student loan consolidation program that can result in a lower payment. But since the interest rate is not reduced, the total amount owed over time may increase. If either of these options are something you’re considering, do your homework and be sure you understand all costs and fees, both long and short-term.

Manage Small Expenses

When looking for money saving ideas, don’t overlook the small stuff. Do you really need a high-priced coffee twice a day? Could you cook at home more? Can you take your lunch to work? Each of these ways of saving money may seem insignificant, but they can add up to big savings over time. The beauty of using finance software programs is that they allow you to get an idea of how these smaller cost items fit in the context of your overall expenses.

Why do any of this? Managing your expenses today can payoff big down the road. Getting into the habit of living at or below your means now is a great way to ensure you’re on track to meet your various financial goals throughout your life.

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