9 money-saving tips for the New Year

By Michelle Ruiz, Financially Fit | Cosmopolitan – Thu, 03 Jan 2013

We know: Your New Year’s resolution is to get so toned, that you’ll look like you’re a part of the 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. But getting financially fit is almost as popular a resolution as hitting the gym, according to a new study. Cosmopolitan columnist and LearnVest CEO Alexa von Tobel gives us her money-saving tips.

1. Make a Three-Year Plan
“Think three years out: Where do you want to be financially? It might be to pay off student loans, or credit card debt, or buy an apartment. Figure out how much you will need to achieve it, and then compute how much you will need to save each year, month, and week.”

2. Get Organized
“Run your finances like you run you social life! Set up calendar alerts for your bills. Make a separate email address for your bills so they never get lost in the shuffle. Plan for the year ahead-I do my taxes every January and buy all of my holiday gifts in September.”

3. Follow the 50/20/30 Rule
“Allocate 50 percent of your salary to essentials-rent, groceries, transportation to and from work, and utilities. Put 20 percent to your future-savings and retirement. 30 percent goes to whatever the hell you want! Chanel pumps?”

4. Build Your Freedom Fund
“Set aside at least six months of life expenses so if you lost your job tomorrow, you’d be able to stay afloat. It’s a freedom fund because it also allows you to walk out of a job you hate or have the freedom to leave a relationship.”

5. Prioritize
“Think about the most valuable places to put your dollars. For example, if your credit card debt costs you 17 percent interest and your savings account only earns you one percent interest, pay off the debt before you focus on saving.”

6. Protect Yourself
“The number-one case of bankruptcy is being improperly insured. Make sure you have adequate renters insurance, disability insurance, and car insurance. People can be so thoughtful about saving a few dollars on things like groceries, but they might have blind spots to the tune of thousands of dollars.”

7. Assign Short-Term Deadlines
“Start out with simple goals and timetables. For example, try to save $1,000. Or say, ‘This month, I’m getting life insurance.'”

8. Go Social
“Tell people-whether it’s your best friend or your boyfriend or your mom-about your goals. It’s social reinforcement and will help you stick to it.”

9. Find a Money Doctor
Approaching your finances-especially debt-can feel paralyzing. The best thing you can do is reach out for professional help-an unbiased expert who’s not trying to sell you anything can help you make a plan.

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