Halloween (it’s only three weeks away!) is not only every candy lover’s favorite holiday, it is the beginning of the most expensive season of the year. From early November
through the first week of January, retailers, loved ones, and friends will be encouraging you to spend money on everything from pricey celebrations and holiday meals, to Christmas gifts.
That’s why this is the perfect time a year to take a close look at your finances and get a grip. Here are some of the best ways to save more and spend less, while you get a grip on your wallet before the holiday season begins.
- Keep Your Eyes on the Prize. Financial security may not have the immediate appeal of a shiny, new pair of shoes, but delayed gratification with a greater goal in mind is one of the keys to saving and spending wisely. The next time you want to splurge, remember that you are achieving you dream—living as debt-free as possible, and cruising toward a comfortable, secure retirement. Take a look a retirement calculator, like T. Rowe Price’s, to get yourself on track.
- Get a big girl budget. Of course you do your best to pay the bills on time, but do you really have a budget? An organized, goal-oriented way of tabulating expenses and cash flow? Check out the GoodBudget Help Centers for simple advice on getting started. Or, check out this list of budget apps.
- Go on automatic pilot. Automatic savings work well, so set one up. Have an amount (even if you can only afford a few dollars each paycheck, it counts) deducted each pay period. After a while, you won’t even notice it’s gone and you will be contributing to your nest egg.
- Forget about that raise. Yes, you fought for it and you deserve it, but if you were able to live comfortably before you received it, bank it. The same goes for bonuses. If you know you have an increase coming, put it into your new budget plan as savings.
- Ignore that “sale” sign. Do not fall for retailer’s tricks. Store spend millions every year trying to separate you from your money. If you do not have to buy something specific that you know you need (an interview suit, dress for your friend’s wedding, school clothes for the kids) stay out of the stores. You are not saving money if you shop during a sale and buy something you don’t need.
- Plan for the best deal. Avoid last minute purchases, so that you have time to compare prices online, use coupon sites, or have the time to have things shipped to you from websites with great bargains like Jet.com.
- Chill before buy. If you see something just must have (that purse!), give yourself a 24-hour cooling-off period before you buy it. Go home, think it through and ask yourself what other, smarter things you might do with that money, like drop it in an investment account.
- Build a portfolio. If your only investment it your retirement fund at the job, it’s time to get savvy about earning money from your money. Here’s an easy primer on learning how to invest.
- Clean out your wallet. Pick one debit card to use for your weekly budget (the rest of the money should be in savings) take it with you each day. Remove your credit cards and put them away in a safe place. Only put a credit card back in your wallet when you have decided you must use it for a specific purchase. If at all possible, cut credit cards back to one for emergencies. Pay the rest down, cut them up, and call it a day. In most cases, if you can’t pay cash for a purchase, you can’t afford it. Charging it is a just a route to debt.
- Earn more. Job loses and salary cutbacks are a harsh reality in today’s world, even when you do everything right. Take some time this weekend to consider you skills and check out websites like Fiverr or Etsy (if you’re good with crafts) to find new sources of income, or try picking up freelance work with your professional skills. Who knows, you might even come up with a new career.
About Fierce Fridays — Tips for Weekend Well-Being
We each cherish those precious days off at the end of the week, but increasingly those of us who are charter members of the sisterhood of the stressed and overworked are losing our Saturday and Sunday leisure time to weekend work and domestic duties.
To make sure that you do something every weekend that’s just for you, we’ll be sharing a little advice to make those 48 hours a great time to recharge your batteries, bring a little good news into your life, or discover a quick and easy way to improve your health.