21 Small Financial Changes for 2021
- Comments off
It’s 2021 and who doesn’t want to have a better financial year? 2020 was rough for a lot of us, but let’s learn from the lessons of last year and press on into what the new year has to offer! So, here are 21 small financial changes that you can make right now that will have a big impact on your 2021 finances.
Start with a little family hunt. Have everyone in the family hunt for change around the house, the car and in old purses/backpacks. Whatever you find, grab a piggy bank or an old jar and start filling it up. Make saving money fun for everyone. Use it for an impromptu ice cream outing or let it be spending money for the kids on vacation.
Cancel a subscription or two (or three!) and start using your local library. Books, movies, tv shows, audio books, digital books, music and more can all be found at your local library and accessed for free. Even if you just need to cancel things for a few months, that’s better than continuing to pay for something you already have access to, when you really need that extra cash for other things.
Meal plan and reimagine leftovers. Especially if you live by yourself or you’re cooking for two, eating the same leftovers all week gets old quick. Which also means you’re probably throwing away a couple of meals every week too. Or choosing to eat out because you don’t feel like cooking and you don’t want to eat any more leftovers…it adds up quickly. So what do you do? Have a little imagination!
Did you make tacos? Maybe night number two bake a potato and top with your taco meat and favorite toppings.
Are you a huge chicken lover? Night 1, eat with veggies and a potato. Night 2, make a large salad and top with cut up chicken bites. Night 3, cook some pasta with a simple olive oil and parmesan sauce and top with chicken and spinach.
The possibilities are there, you just need to plan a little ahead to reduce waste in both your pantry and your pocketbook.
Talk to your spouse about money. This may feel like a monumental task and you may wonder how it could possibly impact your finances… but trust us, strengthen communication around the topic of money. We help you navigate some of these conversations in this article.
After a while, it will become a normal conversation between the two of you. You’ll be able to keep a better track of your expenses, savings and start working together on your long term and short term goals (even if they’re a little different!).
Don’t just create a budget. Use a budgeting system. Creating a budget takes time but that’s honestly the hard part. Tracking your expenses just takes a little discipline to keep up with it. But, at the end of the year, you’ll be so glad you did. When you can clearly see where you spent money, where you could have saved and the progress you’re making on debt, you’ll see that budgeting is worth it. So what does this look like? There are many budgeting apps to choose from out there or you could even use a simple spreadsheet. Having all of this data in one place helps you see, as a family, where your money went and what changes you may need to make to reach your goals.
Shop around for new insurance. If it’s been a few years since you switched, just take a look online and get a few different quotes. You might even call your current insurance company to see if they can match the prices you’re finding. Or look at bundling more services such as your home/renters insurance with your car insurance. Remember, most of them will quote you monthly prices. So, even though you may think, “$5, that’s not enough to switch,” don’t forget that that’s $60 over the course of the year. That’s a tank full of gas plus some money for a quick dinner out. Remember, small changes can add up to make a big impact.
Decide why you are saving money. Having a clear goal in mind may actually help you keep your commitment and not overspend in other areas. Plus, make it visual. Are you trying to pay off your car or save up for a car? Tape a picture of the car on your fridge. Or, are you looking to save for a family vacation? Color in a goal sheet so you can see the progress you’re making.
Pay attention to price, quality and NOT the brand. It can be easy to convince ourselves that we’re saving money because we’re buying off-brand items, or buying in bulk. But that’s not always true. Before choosing an item, check these three things:
- Quality. Is this an item that will last? If it’s food, will my family eat it or will it end up in the trash?
- Quantity vs. Price. Does it have a sale tag? That’s nice. Don’t neglect checking how much you’re paying per ounce or package. Plus, don’t forget to factor in your digital and paper coupons.
- Expiration Date. Only buy what you know your family will use before the expiration date. It’s tempting when you see that sale tag on your family’s favorite brand. But, money will be wasted if it’s not eaten.
Buy or make reusable masks, enough for everyone in your family to have two for every day of the week. You’ll be able to stop searching for those boxes of single-use masks and you’ll save money in the long-run.
Turn the heat down at night and pile on the blankets. Turning the thermostat down just a few degrees a night will help you save money each month during winter. Turning it down too low could actually end up costing you because your system will have to run that much harder trying to catch back up.
Make the most of your credit union’s offerings. So what if it’s a shameless plug… it’s true! We help you save money. We offer lower loan rates on car loans. We usually have higher savings rate options. Plus, our checking has 0 fees and can be managed online or with our app. So, we help you save money and are here to consult with you on how to best manage your money. Learn more about what we have to offer here.
Use our free bill pay. Stop paying online fees or late fees. With us, you can pay a person/organization one time or set up recurring payments. This way, you save on checks, postage and time. Quickly set it up and make payments from our app or online banking account.
Simplify your savings. Set up a recurring transfer from your checking to your savings after every scheduled paycheck entry. Or, start a Christmas Savings Account, where a portion of each paycheck goes into a special account that you can’t touch until October of the new year, right in time for Christmas shopping.
Take care of your mental and physical health to keep your long term medical bills down. Drink water, exercise, work on quitting tobacco and alcohol, etc. Taking care of yourself today will help you save money. Sounds crazy, but it’s why so many employers offer wellness programs. Check with your health insurance or HR department to see if there are any incentives for tracking healthy habits. Some programs offer cash back for tracking exercise and other preventative health measures.
Is there a simple repair you’d normally pay someone to do? Why not see if you and a friend or your spouse can tackle it instead. There are thousands and thousands of how-to videos out there. You might be surprised at what you could potentially handle yourself with a little bit of knowledge.
Incorporate cheaper, longer lasting foods into your meals. This could include oatmeal for breakfast instead of cereal or protein bars. Or, do you not have time to fix your lunch so you end up at the fast food restaurant across the street from work? Keep a few packages of tuna, crackers, and individually wrapped mayo in your work drawer. Quick, simple lunch ready in just a minute. Check out this list we’ve put together of other inexpensive staple foods to add to your next grocery list.
Check every receipt and bill you’re sent. Sometimes billing systems make mistakes, so if something doesn’t look quite right, don’t be afraid to simply call and ask. Sometimes they may even have tips for how to keep your bill lower in the future. Or, if a business increases your normal monthly cost it never hurts to call and see if you can negotiate the cost back down. You’ll see this happen sometimes with your internet/cable bills or your car insurance. Or, if you’re at the grocery, before you leave, pull your cart to the side and check your receipt. If you find a mistake go to the service counter right then. They can usually quickly straighten out the problem.
Look around your home for things to sell. Even if you can’t have a yard sale, you can still take them to a consignment shop or sell them on Facebook Marketplace. You’ll be able to limit your home’s clutter and make a little extra cash.
Think about one thing you do every week that costs you money. Then, stop doing it. Or at least consider it! Do you stop at the convenience store for a quick breakfast or afternoon snack? Plan ahead and bring something with you to work instead. Do you stop for coffee multiple times a week? Invest in a thermos so you can bring your favorite coffee with you to work instead. We’re not saying you can’t enjoy the things you love. We’re just helping you see that moderation could actually help you save money while still enjoying what you love.
Planning a vacation this year? Leave flex dollars in your budget. If you have $800 to spend, only plan activities and expenses as if you have $700. You never know when an emergency might pop up or when you’ll want to say yes to an unexpected adventure. Or, you might even end up with $100 left to start your next vacation’s budget! Check out more of our vacation savings tips.
Add a little extra to your retirement fund. After analyzing your budget and spending habits, did you discover you have a little extra you could put aside for the future? You might be able to start an IRA with Signet. Or, see if you can increase your contribution under your employer’s program.