Forget making a Financial New Year’s Resolution. Say What??? Less than half of the population actually makes one and only 6-8% of those who make one, actually keep it. Let’s say instead of making a resolution we will incorporate some minor lifestyle changes in order to have more money in the bank at the end of this year compared to last year. Living paycheck to paycheck each week can definitely put a tremendous amount of pressure on us and makes life less enjoyable. But we also have to realize that it is not how much we make that decides what we have left in the bank at the end of the month. It is the amount we spend that matters most. The goal is to share a few ideas you can use and apply in order to make your financial life a little less stressful this year.
Consider a financial partner. I am not saying you have to hire a financial professional, but simply that you need to have someone that can help or at least help you stay on track financially. Maybe team up with another single parent. This person should have a positive attitude and provide positive encouragement and when needed, some tough love if you get off track. Other saving solutions might include sharing a home, transportation expenses, meals, utilities, and childcare. If you are unable to find someone who can share in the expenses, instead keep a spending journal where you are itemizing exactly where, what and how much you are spending. Each week you want to meet with your partner and show them your journal. Knowing that you have to show someone where you are wasting your money might make the difference in having more money instead of no money at the end of the month.
You will definitely have more money if you quit eating, but in reality you won’t live long unless you eat. If you find yourself going out to eat all of the time, this is a great place to start when looking for areas in your spending plan where you can cut the fat. Identify how many times you go out in a month, and then reduce it by half. Along with going out to eat if you enjoy going to your local coffee shop, keep in mind that your $4.00 a day latte habit can end up costing you $30 dollars a week or $125 dollars a month. If your better half is tagging along with you, your morning ritual could realistically be costing you over $250 a month.
How many television channels do you really watch? Consider trading your 1000 Gold Tiered Cable package for basic cable. If you enjoy going to the movies it’s still cheaper to rent a movie from Redbox than it is going to that afternoon matinee. Even better, go to the public library and get your entertainment for free. At most public libraries you have the ability to download or check out music, movies and books for free.
Many people spend money as a means of entertainment or coping with boredom and emotional issues. If you find yourself watching infomercials or the shopping channels on TV because you can’t sleep, or visiting your local malls and shopping centers every weekend for something to do, consider finding other ways to occupy your time so you are not tempted to buy things that you might not really need. If you have too much time on your hand, consider volunteering. The saying “it is better to give than receive” really works.
You can definitely save some money if you can get by with either a land line or a cell phone, but not both. You might be reluctant to get rid of your landline because of 911 issues with cell phones. According to the FCC it is estimated that 70% of 911 calls are placed on wireless phones so if you are stubborn and think you have to have a landline in case of an emergency, visit www.fcc.gov for some tips on 911 calling from a wireless phone.
Steve Repak, CFP®, is a Speaker, Army Veteran, and the author of Dollars & UncommonSense: Basic Training For Your Money. He has been a frequent guest on Fox and Friends, 700 Club, and Fox Business and has been featured in Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, MSN Money and Yahoo Finance.
The Life of a Single Mom (TLSM) is a 501c3 nonprofit that exists to serve single parents and those who work with single parents. We are fully accredited through a variety of organizations that include high levels of financial accountability and awards for our premiere financial stewardship, including GuideStar, Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability, Great Nonprofits, Chamber of Commerce, LANO, and others.