With New Years and Dia de los Reyes behind us it’s time to start implementing our Año Nuevo resolution strategies! For many of us this includes assessing the money we spentm, and in many cases debt we incurred, during Christmas and the changes we need to make in order to save in 2013.
Although there are many ways to cut back some are not as obvious as others. While substituting that fancy almost $4.00 Starbucks Latte with an old fashioned homemade café con leche is a start our friends at Reader’s Digest suggests five easy-to-implement money resolutions to help you change the way you spend and save in 2013.
I Won’t Throw Food Money Out with the Trash
The average American family of four tosses out about $2,275 worth of food every year, according to a 2012 study by the National Resources Defense Council. Planning weekly meals, buying from bulk bins at amounts you need, and avoiding impulse buys and marketing gimmicks (like two-for-one deals on items your family doesn’t even like) will reduce costs and food waste. You can safely eat most foods past “sell by” and “use by” dates, which are manufacturer suggestions, aren’t federally regulated, and don’t indicate safety (except on certain baby foods). Freeze fresh produce and leftovers. If you can’t abide leftovers, be smart about portion control. The NIH Portion Distortion site offers great tips.
I’ll Be A Smarter Shopper
Technology can make you a magna cum laude shopper. Apps like the one at couponsherpa.com mean no clipping (unless you want to—it offers printable coupons too). Redlaser.com’s app uses bar codes to help you compare prices at nearby stores as well as online. Shopsavvy.com, also bar code driven, lets you compare prices and deals, too, as well as access customer reviews, tips, and coupon codes. If you’re shopping for electronics, the Decide app (decide.com) tells you the best time to buy that flat-screen TV. And gasbuddy.com will find you the best price per gallon near your location.
I’ll Make a Budget and Stick to It
Consider a zero-based budget, in which every dollar of income is earmarked for specific outlays, such as mortgage, food, savings and entertainment. Every month, income minus outgo equals zero. Folks who use zero-based budgeting pay off 19 percent more debt and save 18 percent more bucks than those who don’t, according to Dave Ramsay, author of The Total Money Makeover. Budget extra for groceries the first few months (you spend more than you think). For help, try sites like mint.com, buxfer.com, and schwabmoneywise.com.
I’ll Keep Better Tax Records
Forget that shoebox full of paper. Try shoeboxed.com instead to digitize receipts and store them online. Go right to the source with the IRS2Go (irs.gov) app, which offers tax-prep tips and tools—issued daily during tax-filing season. Idonatedit.com stores pictures of donated goods, estimates their value, keeps a running total, and lets you e-mail it to your accountant.
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