Getting towards the end of the first month of 2015, many people will have their resolutions well and truly sorted. But if you're the type to procrastinate, or you neglected your savings account in your resolution considerations, maybe you could benefit from a couple of these resolution this year.
1. Change a habit
Which habit costs you money needlessly every day? Prime examples might be online shopping, smoking or buying chocolate bars at lunchtime. These are habits that have negative effects, but are also expenses with no real long-term benefit. Choosing to kick a habit that can kill two birds with one stone might be more motivating than simply deciding to save money.
2. Swap a habit
Some habits are too good to give up. Maybe you enjoy a cup of coffee at a local cafe every Sunday or perhaps a few drinks with friends after work on a Friday. How can you keep these indulgent and social activities without pouring money down the drain?
Swap out your regular fix for a less expensive option. If you want to enjoy a drink with colleagues after work, why not find an establishment with a cheap happy hour? Or invite them round to your place and get a box of beer from the supermarket. You can still enjoy the same social event at half the cost to your credit card.
3. Pay attention
It's easy to spend more than we intend to when you don't really take notice of price tags. You may walk into a shop determined to buy bread and milk and walk out with exactly those items, yet still have paid too much. Taking half a minute to scan the grocery aisle for comparable brands or varieties at lower prices could save you a few dollars on just a couple items.
Multiply this out for a big shop and you could be better off by a whole lot. Think about doing this every weekly shop and all of a sudden you've saved a fair chunk this year.
4. Bank better
Banking can be another financial blind spot. Many consumers don't pay attention to their fees, account structures or any number of items that could be costing them in charges and interest. The reason? They've always banked with them.
There's no reason not to switch to a different provider if it makes more financial sense. The same goes for phone companies, utility providers and more. Laziness is the enemy! Don't be tempted to stay with what you know because it involves effort to change. Actively look at the cost of car loans, power bills, lawn services and more. And remember to reassess these at a later point — things change!
5. Thrift your way wealthy
Have you ever heard the expression "dress for the job you want, not the job you have"? While there is some merit to the idea, being excessive in your expenditure won't get you ahead in life (most of the time). It's very possible to choose less expensive options when shopping for clothes, furniture, food and more, and receive quality that is similar or the same.
6. Cancel your gym membership
This could almost go under kicking bad habits. If you are one of the people that resolved to get fit last year, bought a gym membership and went twice, you're not exercising anything but your wallet.
Save your credit card the worry and don't commit to long-term contracts if you question whether you'll maintain usage. You could probably buy some home exercise equipment for much less than the cost of a gym membership, or just exercise outside with friends for free!
7. Spoil yourself
Did you think saving was supposed to be hard? Well, not always. Sometimes treating yourself can be exactly what you need to maintain your motivation levels. You can also use special outings or expenses as short-term goals to help you reach your long-term ones.
8. Connect with your spouse or family
Being more honest and open with your spouse or family is a great way to improve relationships at home, making it a worthy resolution just on its own. However, it also has the added benefit of making it easier to talk about sensitive topics like unnecessary expenses and family finances.
9. Become a long-term planner
Setting a resolution for 2015 may be a challenge, but aiming for something ten years away is a lot harder. Research how to become a long-term planner, so that all of your smaller goals add up to something big. Generally speaking you'll need to know how to formulate goals that are relevant, measurable and specific.
If you can learn to put these into a larger matrix of life goals, you'll be one step closer to the lifelong dreams that may have seemed very far away. Going on a year long cruise when you retire might seem like a dream with consequences that are very far away, but effective SMSF planning now can make it happen.
10. Analyse your decisions — with time
Everybody wonders at some point whether an expense is justifiable or not. An easy way to decide if you really want to spend money on concert tickets is to figure out how long you'd be willing to work for them.
Divide your weekly pay or annual salary to figure out how much you earn per hour (after tax and deductions). Once you know what that amount is, you can divide the cost of whatever purchase you are going to make by that number to figure out how many hours you would work to earn it. Is it still worth it?