As the new year of 2017 begins you are provided an awesome opportunity to examine past spending habits and look for new ways to set goals, save money and increase your effectiveness and peace of mind. For many, planning a budget, let alone sticking to one, can often be a daunting task. However, it’s amazing what can happen by regularly taking small positive steps. With a few little changes, you can create big financial benefits. Below are some ideas for your consideration:
- Catch the Big Why. What are you striving for in your finances? Are you working toward being debt free? Are you saving for something particular (a debt free new car, a mortgage-free home, a family vacation or something else)? If so, keep reminders of your WHY…that is to say, stay focused on your vision. Keep them in front of you where you see them often.
Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” Post a scripture or visual image on your refrigerator, car dashboard or bathroom mirror. You can even create a screensaver for your computer, tablet or smartphone so you are reminded several times every day of your vision. Whatever you do… write the vision. Then look at that vision often… thanking God that He will help bless your efforts and bring it to pass.
God calls us to be good stewards with what He has given us. “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” (Luke 16:10-11). With diligence, planning and a few proven strategies, you can be a better steward of your finances, and your rainy-day fund will grow like you might not have imagined!
- Arrange Special Savings Accounts
If you have a big purchase coming up, set up a special savings account with a good interest rate to help the balance grow faster. Savings accounts are easy to set up, and are low on the risk meter compared to other investments. When you consistently make payments to a savings account, just as you would a credit card or auto debt, those seemingly smaller amounts begin to become something substantial over time.
- Use Savings Apps
Savings apps are a growing trend in budget technology and they can automatically deduct from other accounts to gather away funds in separate savings account. These apps can round purchases up to the nearest dollar and deposit the difference, make deductions based on your spending habits, or take your change to invest in low-risk stocks. There are many from which to choose, but just a quck check and I found these to be helpful in getting you started. Acorns and Digit can help get you started. Check them out and see if they are helpful to your goals. Here’s their links: Digit and/or Acorns
- Reduce Coffee and Lunch Runs
Specialty coffee drinks are a treat, but they can also amazingly drain your budget. If you normally visit Starbucks six to eight times a month, limit yourself to only three or four coffee runs (or less). Consider cutting down 50%. The same can be said for lunches. Commit to brown-bagging it to work a few times a week (or more), and you’ll be amazed at how quickly those savings can add up!
- Impose a Shopping Ban
Maybe a vacation or expensive purchase is looming, like that of a house or a car. A helpful tactic to help you save money is to impose a shopping ban on yourself. For a set period of time (usually one to three months), ban yourself from buying all nonessential items. Items that aren’t necessary to your survival will have to wait until the ban is lifted.
- Stick to Your List
When grocery shopping, or even heading out for a big-box run (i.e., WalMart, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.), make a list and stick to it. You’ll be less likely to fill your cart with impulse purchases, thus saving money each trip.
- Go Into a ‘Holding Pattern’ for Large Purchases
A little bit of time can give you a better perspective. If you find yourself getting caught up in the frenzy of buying, set an amount as a threshold—$50 or $100 or $200. Determine that any unexpected purchases above that amount require a 24-hour holding pattern period. This will keep you from making large impulse purchases or signing up for credit cards or payment plans that can hurt you financially in the long run.
- Use the Correct Card
Do you have the best card for your financial situation? Evaluate what your budget can handle and pick a card that meets your needs. Use separate cards for online and store purchases, or cards that set limits for recreational spending, grocery shopping, lunch money and more. And be sure to research reward offerings so you can pick one that fits the needs of your lifestyle.
- Look for New Ways to Make Money
In order to reach your savings goals, it may not be enough to just spend less. You may need to employ a two-part approach: decreased spending and increased earnings. This can be an exciting way to improve your life. I really mean it. Gaining some extra income with a new job, or a new small business can add value to living. Explore new ways of supplementing your income with new income-earning opportunities such as:
- Launching a small business
- Offering tax preparation services
- Becoming an Uber driver
- Selling homemade gift items on Etsy or at local craft fairs
- Becoming a certified fitness instructor (Zumba, yoga, etc.)
- Offering pet sitting, house-sitting, or babysitting services
These are some steps you can take that can make a major impact in your finances this year. Let’s remember that Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 NKJV
Make sure your finances are ultimately under the direction of the Lord and continually ask Him for His blessings. This is what Jacob did over and over and He was blessed for generations because of it.
For further reading check out YOU SHALL NOT LACK ANY GOOD THING by Dale Black