Ten Money Saving Resolutions for a Wealthy (and Healthy) New Year

By Mike Peterson
In January 7, 2010

This New Year, try making a resolution that you’ll actually stick to:  Saving money.  Here are ten simple tips to help you stop wasting money and start building wealth:

  1. Quit Smoking. Kick that nasty habit to the curb and watch your savings grow – if you smoke a pack a day at around $5 a day, that’s a savings of about $2,000 a year – and you may even get a break on your insurance premium.  It’s a great, healthy way to begin the New Year.
  2. Drop the latte; scratch the lotto tickets. You’ll save a bundle if you can give up at least one daily indulgence.  Resist the siren song of Starbucks, or pass on the scratch-off lottery tickets.  These little luxuries can be a huge drain on your finances.  Make them a special treat to be enjoyed occasionally instead of every day.  You’ll be surprised at the savings.
  3. Pay yourself first. It’s easy to watch your earnings slip between your fingers as you pay your monthly bills.  This year, make sure that some of that money goes into your savings account.  Pick an amount you think you can live without, whether it’s $20, $50, or $200 – and stick to it.  To make it even easier to save, call the bank and set up an automatic transfer from your checking to your savings account. 
  4. Use paper – not plastic. And I don’t mean grocery bags.  Pay cash for everything.  If you can’t afford to purchase it outright, chances are you shouldn’t really buy it.  Work on paying down your existing credit card debt, if you have any, and then cut up your cards.  Keep one card for emergencies only (note:  a pair of shoes is not considered an emergency).
  5. Channel your inner chef. A meal at a restaurant can be fun once in a while, but most Americans spend way too much money on dining out.  Make a resolution to eat at home six nights a week.  Plan interesting menus and get the whole family involved – it can be a lot of fun, and it’s usually a lot healthier.  If cooking isn’t your thing, now’s the time to learn:  Check out some cookbooks from the library or start watching the Food Network. 
  6. Clip coupons – and use them! If you’re like most of us, you probably have a stack of expired coupons stuck in a drawer somewhere.  Throw them away and start fresh:  Scan the newspapers, the Internet, and store circulars for money-saving coupons – just don’t forget to take them with you when you go shopping. 
  7. Go generic and save. From laundry detergent to bottled water, you can save money if you buy store brand items.  With many of these items, you’re really just paying for a fancy brand name and a recognizable label.  Generic or store brand products are often just as good and cost a lot less.
  8. Don’t be a slave to fashion. Keeping up with the latest trends can be expensive.  If you want to indulge in new clothing occasionally, buy classic items that won’t go out of style.  Besides, today’s hot fashions are tomorrow’s embarrassing family photos (think parachute pants).  To stretch your style budget even further, consider shopping at resale or consignment stores.
  9. Work to save; save at work. Think about how much money you spend during the workday.  Coffee on your way to the office, lunch from the fast food joint around the corner, and bottled water from the vending machine – all of these “little” purchases can whittle away your hard-earned dollars.  Start brown-bagging it, brew coffee at home, and bring your own bottled water.  If you’re a commuter, save gas money by using public transportation or joining a carpool.
  10. Cut down on entertainment expenses. Even if you’re saving during the work week, weekends can be hazardous to your bank account.  Find cheap or free entertainment alternatives that won’t drain your wallet:  Watch a film on cable instead of going to the movies, or stay home and play a board game with friends instead of going out on a Saturday night.

These money-saving resolutions are effective and easy to follow – stick to them and watch your savings account grow.

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.