The beginning of a new year always brings upon reflection from the previous, wondering if you are where you wanted to be when you looked ahead from last year. Whether it was losing a few pounds, paying off a credit card, or even trying to get a few more books read into the daily routine, resolutions are good to have as they keep you in check and provides goals to shoot for. Now, whether they’re realistic or not depends on your follow through. When it comes to the family finances, there is always room for improvement and the ultimate should continue to be the same, which is getting (and staying) out of debt, making sure you have a cushion of a few months’ worth of reserves in an account in case of emergency, and while it may be decades down the road, ensuring you have enough of a nest egg to live off when you finally do walk away from work and begin to take on more life experiences that you want to cross off the bucket list. No matter if you are trying to stick to a budget or simply want to know where all of your money is going, it’s a good time to check and see just how much of your hard-earned money you’re wasting every month.
Where to Start
It makes it a lot easier if you stick to using a card or two throughout the month so you reference the statement to see every dollar going out. From there you can see how much was allocated into monthly expenses such as utilities, food, gas, and spending money. As you really start to shore up unnecessary spending you can put every purchase under the microscope to really decide if the purchase was necessary. For fun, you can go through each purchase, put into categories of ‘necessary’, ‘unnecessary’, or even anything on the fence. From there, add up all of the unnecessary charges and see how much you could have saved throughout the month by avoiding these spending sprees. It could surprise you the hundreds of extra dollars you could have had left in your statement.
The next step is to really get rid of those ‘on the fence’ purchases that are not entirely necessary in getting by each month. While they are expenses so to speak, this is where your gym membership, cable bill, or restaurant and bar tabs come into play. Sure, it’s nice to get a meal out or drinks with your friends, but if you can avoid going to out eat multiple times a week and prepare meals at home by going grocery shopping, you can start to watch the savings pile up quickly. The gym membership is as easy cut, because let’s face it, you’re not going anyways. The cable bill can get tough, but if you find yourself watching a streaming service or your DVR as the only means to watching TV, it’s probably time to cut the cable cord along with the rest of the growing population who feel that cable TV is just too expensive and frankly, no longer a necessity.