At the top of the list for goals for the new year is probably saving money. Mine is. While you may not have a specific goal in mind, it’s always good to save for a rainy day. I will be discussing several ideas which can help you get a better grip on where your money is going and what you can do about it.
1.Year-end statements. If you use a credit or debit card for most of your purchases, your year-end statement should be arriving soon. Chase, for example, inventories your charges and categorizes them for you. Look for spending in such areas as “Restaurants”, “Travel,” or “Services.” Probably room to cut back on these non-essentials.
2. Aggregation sites. If you don’t already, use a site such as Yodlee or Mint to track money flow. These free sites will do the heavy lifting for you once your link your accounts so you can see where all of your money is going. Bonus: they track loyalty programs and allow for one-click logins to your accounts.
3. Loyalty programs. For every retailer in which you frequent, online or off, check to see if they have a rewards program. I love rewards programs. Usually free, they provide discounts, access to sales, rebates, coupons, or other perks just for signing up. Each year, Starbucks Rewards gives you a free coffee or other food choice. Saving money on my favorite habit? I am in.
4. Consolidate Debt. If you have holiday gift hangover or other lingering debts, get a handle on them by combining debt into a lower, fixed-rate. Prosper.com offers much lower rates than your credit card. Sleep better while saving money knowing you are attacking one debt beast and not several.
5. Other ideas. There are many out there. Get creative and get cracking.