January isn’t always the easiest month from a financial standpoint. The holidays are over and there’s a good chance your bank account and credit card statements are showing just how much you spent during the season. Thankfully January is also the perfect time for new beginnings and new habits, so this year instead of getting overwhelmed by budgets and bills take a step back and implement one or two easy lifestyle changes to save some money. You can also check out a previous blog to make your apartment more energy efficient and bring your utility bills down a bit as well.
Make a Shopping List and Stick to It
A good rule of thumb as you’re starting to budget and save money is to simply be more aware of your spending habits. One easy way to start doing this is to make a list before going into the store then sticking to that list. We’ve all been there—you go to the store for only a few things then walking out 45 minutes later with a cart full because the dollar aisle and clearance rack were too tempting. By buying only what you need you’ll avoid being surprised at the register.
Cancel Unused Memberships
Between the warehouse memberships, subscription boxes, and gym memberships there are plenty of monthly costs you may not even think about that are adding up. Think about your monthly habits and see if there’s anything you can downgrade or get rid of entirely. For example, join the “cutting the cord” movement if you only use streaming services. If your apartment community has a nice fitness center, why pay extra for a gym membership? If you are using the Costco or Sam’s Club membership feel free to keep it, but if you don’t use it often let it expire.
Avoid Instant Gratification
Another mindful step to take to keep yourself on budget is to avoid instant gratification. Nowadays everything you could ever want is just a click away, and online shopping can quickly get out of hand if you’re not careful. Consider signing in to the online store and leaving the items in your cart for 24-48 hours before submitting the order. After a day or two come back and decide if you really do want to complete the order.
Admit it, you already spend most of your time online. So why not make it convenient on yourself and switch all your banking and other financials to paperless? Oftentimes institutions will offer incentives to keep everything online, or you can at least avoid paper invoice fees that are becoming more common. If you tend to forget payments you should also think about switching to autopay to stop the annoying late fees.