Christmas is over, and 2011 is staring us in the face. It’s the time of the year when people are making New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not a big fan of resolutions, as most people tend to fail by the end of January.
I am, however, a big fan of reasonable goals. Goals that are achievable. Goals that are measurable. Goals that are beneficial. If you’re looking for a goal (or two or three) to help you be more frugal in 2011, look no further! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Eliminate One Debt
If you are in debt, it would be nice to finally pay off what you owe, wouldn’t it? But you’ll never get there without a plan! Set a goal to eliminate one debt this year. Maybe it’s a credit card. Maybe it’s a car loan. Just pick one, and work like crazy until it’s paid off.
If your debts are too big to pay off in one year, pick a number. Say you’ll reduce your student loan debt by $6000 before 2011 is over. Then do it.
Designating one month of the year as a no-spend month is a great way to kick start your savings. Determine to only spend money on groceries, gas, and necessary bills.
For one month, don’t buy anything new. Don’t eat out. Don’t go to the movies. Use the money you save toward something productive like paying off debt or savings.
Save More Money
The problem with saving money is that most people try to save only after they’ve paid the rest of their bills. When they find nothing is left at the end of the month, they save nothing.
Make 2011 the year to pay yourself first. Settle on a percent of your income to save. Ten percent would be great, but even if you can only save one percent of your income, it’s a start. Make a plan to have the money automatically transferred to your savings account before you see it. By the end of the year, you’ll have saved a substantial amount.
Change Your Habits One by One
If you’re trying to begin living more frugally, it can seem overwhelming at first. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Instead of trying to go “all-frugal” at the beginning of the year, pick a habit to change each month. One month practice living on a budget. Another month make it a point to look at thrift stores and Craigslist before buying anything. Pick one month to practice using less electricity. You’re in charge! In December, you’ll be able to look back at the year and see how much your habits have changed.
No matter what you’d like to change in 2011, make sure your goals are manageable and measurable. Biting off more than you can chew only ensures failure. Make changes a little at a time, and you’re bound to succeed!
Great write-up and tips! It’s amazing how much you can save just by adjusting “little things” over time, and how much they all add up to over the course of a year.
When you hear about saving $50 over the course of a year it’s easy to disregard it, but when you do ten things that save $50 each per year, it starts to really make a difference in your monthly budget.
My retirement plan is to adjust my lifestyle downwards to being fruggle in every way I can. I’m unable to save money for then given my current lifestyle so I”ll just change my values.
My brother is my extreme real life example. He lives in northern Canada using a trappers wall tent year-round and heats by chopping fire wood. He hauls his water by hand and hikes to town each day for coffee and supplies. He has done this for 16 years and is now fit as a fiddle, as they say. I think he lives on less than $200 a month. Because of his inexpensive lifestyle he was able to take a very early retirement and truely enjoys his wilderness life.
Now, from his example to my lifestyle of having ammenities like most others. I think we all can see that we can in fact adjust our lives to simpler values and less costly ways.
So to wrap up, we can find simpler and cheaper lives if we adjust
our wants to a level of spending within our means. From this happiness can be found.
I’ve been trying to find money saving tips that would actually apply to me, and every other average person who can barely make it from paycheck to paycheck, and I have to say that you have some really good tips! I will definitely be sure to pass your site on!
love your idea to focus on using less electricity for one month. one month is do-able, may lead to another and…
Great post! I just discovered your blog, and this is a nice way to be introduced to it! Many of these that you have listed are goals of mine, such as paying off $5,000 worth of student loans and adding $25 a month to my safety net. Mostly my goal is to reduce the amount of stress I carry over money. Have you read Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin? Though I grew up in a frugal home I found their book incredibly helpful in terms of how I view money.
Again, thanks for the great post and I look forward to reading more from your blog!
My goal this year is to set up an automatic savings plan and stick with it for a whole year. I’m thinking about setting up the savings account at a different bank so I’m not tempted to touch it. I mean, it’s only 12 months… how hard could it be? :)