10 Frugal Resolutions for the New Year


View as:

new year 2017 change to 2018 concept, Hand flip wood cube
Photo credit: marchmeena29/istockphoto

With holiday shopping winding down and a new year ahead, now is the time to start getting finances under control. Here are 10 simple resolutions that will help keep your bank accounts flush in 2018.

woman shopping selective and sustainable in a supermarket
Photo credit: Robert Kneschke/shutterstock

Psychology Today recommends sending out an "SOS" before making a potentially useless purchase: Step back, try to relax, and take a few deep breaths. Orient yourself toward your goals and values -- think about what you're saving for and how it would feel to have a little extra cash. Finally, self-check -- take note of how stressed you are and whether you're in touch with your values. If you're motivated by emotion, reconsider the purchase.

$10 dollar bill
Photo credit: Bragin Alexey/shutterstock

This small contribution to an employer-sponsored or individual retirement plan adds up to $40 a month and roughly $480 a year toward your retirement. "Baby steps," says Nicole Mayer of RPG Life Transition Specialists, a holistic wealth-management firm based in the Chicago area. "Make one small goal. ... Even if you can only afford $5 a paycheck, start with something."

credit card on top of a bank statement
Photo credit: jason cox/shutterstock

Every. Single. Month. Avoid the endless cycle of acquiring debt, paying off a little, and acquiring more debt than you just retired. Either bring those balances down to zero every month or don't use the plastic card. Mayer recommends taking things a step further and paying only with cash. "Put your credit card and debit cards away," she says. "If you give yourself $100 a week for entertainment and eating out and you are working with cash only, you cannot spend more."

Photo credit: alexskopje/shutterstock

One-third of Americans who try to set a budget become frustrated because they simply can't stick to it, according to research by Moven, a mobile banking app and debit card. Additionally, about a quarter of consumers feel overwhelmed and stressed by the constraints of a budget. In the new year, resolve to create one that is easy to figure out and follow.

family eating dinner at a dining table, looking at camera
Photo credit: Monkey Business Images/shutterstock

Yes, this is the point of establishing a budget, but if you didn't earn it, don't spend it. Period. No exceptions. A good place to start: Eating out. Unless there's room in the budget, commit to eating at home.

empty shopping cart in motion in a supermarket
Photo credit: Mattia Menestrina/shutterstock

If you find yourself derailing from your budget, starting to impulse buy, and living beyond your means, try a "no-buy month." It's a big eye-opener and a surefire way to get back on track to financial health.

large group of pink piggy banks
Photo credit: Jakub Krechowicz/shutterstock

We all know someone who decides on a whim to buy the whole bar a round, always wears the latest designer duds and sits for frequent hair blowouts, or drops $10 a day on gourmet coffee. You don't have to stop being friends, but it may do your wallet good to spend more time with people who are more cautious with their spending.

money in 'Emergency Fund' jar
Photo credit: szefei/shutterstock

Remember that $10 a week you committed to saving for retirement? If you don't have any cash set aside in case of an emergency, those Hamiltons might be better put toward a rainy-day fund -- at least until you have a sizable cushion. Some experts suggest $1,000; others say three to six months of expenses. The savings can make that next unexpected medical expense or car repair more of a prick than a sting.

young couple sitting checking their finances together
Photo credit: racorn/shutterstock

Getting on the same page and setting the same financial goals will go a long way toward helping to achieve those ends, Mayer says. Have a "state of the union" meeting, decide jointly on common goals, and discuss how to meet them.

woman distributing family budget
Photo credit: Dragon Images/shutterstock

Take a deep breath. Now collect your credit card and bank statements from the past year. Study them, check  for hidden fees, and note the categories in which spending went overboard. "Just be aware where you are spending money," Mayer says, "and that will make a difference in your choices."

Cheapism.com participates in affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission if you choose to purchase a product through a link on our site. This helps support our work and does not influence editorial content.