Side hustles and entrepreneurial ventures are great for earning money outside of your regular job, but there are other ways to increase your money in the new year!
We’ve talked about mobile apps to help with financial resolutions on the blog previously, but I always say that there are more than just apps available to help you save money!
Here are some actionable, easy tips I give to our members that can help increase how much money you keep in your account:
1. Work with a credit counselor to get a budget analysis.
By having a credit counselor like myself take a look at your budget, you’ll go into the new year aware of what you are working with and what possible improvements need to be implemented. Remember, a budget is a tool—not a restriction!
A budget consists of listing your expenses (fixed, variable, and personal) and listing all income. Income can be anything from a job, Social Security, retirement or even chores. Remember to be flexible and realistic with budgeting and make changes as needed.
Trying to budget for your lifestyle?Check out this post by Pelican Credit Counselor Lynn Gobert to learn how!
2. Consider changing your phone and internet/cable plan.
Utility and phone contracts may be ending next year. This is a great time to research less expensive options for you and your family.
There seems to be a misconception that all bundled phone, internet or cable plans are created equal. Sometimes we have bundled services that we don’t use or need, and after a year rates will sometimes go up for the bundles. Try and remove some of those unneeded services to save some money.
Check and see if your cable company has an option to remove individual channels that you don’t watch. This can lower your bill by a few dollars. Remember, any savings is still savings!
Before ending your services, check to see if they’re under contract. If so, you’ll need to review that contract to determine if any additional fees will need to be paid to the provider for breaking the contract. Neglecting this step and not paying those fees could cause the penalty fees to end up on your credit report as a collection, which would lower your credit score.
3. Take a look at your auto insurance plan.
If you have teens that have left the nest, make sure to let your auto insurance company know.
Whenever you have a driver over the age of 18 in your home, insurance companies require you to do one of two things: opt them out as a driver of your vehicle(s) or have them listed on your auto insurance policy.
If the listed teen leaves the nest or gets their own insurance policy, make sure to remove them from your policy. This will lower the cost of your premium.
4. Go through your home and check for items you may want to post and sell.
You may be looking to start the year off with cleaned out closets and garages or by getting a fresh new look. Just remember that one person’s trash is another one’s treasure.
Studies show that clutter can cause unhealthy eating, poor mental health, and decreased creativity. In an effort to be your best self, you’ll want to be wary of these possibilities. A two-fold solution would be to rid yourself of these unwanted and unused items, and make some extra cash by posting and selling them.
This process must be done with safety and caution in mind. Make sure to meet at public places to deliver items, have a friend or family member accompany you and try to schedule the transfer or sale in the daytime. You can also check online for “safe deal zones,” such as local police stations, to safely make the transfer or sale.
5. Take a look at your tax forms to see if you need to make changes.
Deductions and allowances make a difference regarding your finances. There’s a good chance you may be overlooking something that can save you money come tax season!
I always recommend that my members meet with their CPA or tax preparer for the best options. They’ll be able to look into your specific situation and tell you how you can better plan for the upcoming year.
Don’t pay to have your taxes done! You may qualify for free tax income prep. Visit the IRS website for a list of locations.
6. Start your Christmas Club or holiday savings accounts.
Starting early will alleviate the stress of last-minute holiday shopping!
I strongly advise making small contributions to your holiday savings account through the year. This can be set up on auto transfer from your direct deposit or you can make transfers manually. I find that having funds automatically transfer is much more convenient. Wouldn’t you agree that we all have enough things to be concerned about?
Be sure to consider the average cost you spend on gifts so that you can allocate enough to your holiday savings account.
Is a Christmas Club account right for you?Check out this post and decide for yourself!
7. Look over all of your credit accounts for available discounts.
There are sometimes discounts offered for doing things like going paperless, having multiple products and enrolling in auto-pay. Also, make sure that you have updated all of your contact information. Some companies may charge a fee for incorrect/bad addresses!
Don’t leave money on the table, especially when it comes to updated contact information. This can cause you to miss out on savings, special promotions and much-needed updates.
8. Ensure that you are getting the best rates on loans and credit cards.
When you research and compare your rates, you might discover a lot about how much of your own money is being left on the table. This could prompt you to refinance, make improvements to your credit score or even consolidate your debt.
Need a professional to take a look?Book a free session with one of our Nationally Certified Credit Counselors!*
It’s possible that you may qualify for lower rates on your credit cards or loans. When your accounts were established, you may have had a certain score and have made improvements since that time. You can then inquire about the possibility of refinancing and obtaining a lower rate. Lower interest rates are a definite reward to having great credit!
9. Review your individual and family goals for the new year.
Are you planning to purchase a home, buy a new car or take a vacation? Whatever your goals are, make sure you document them and do a full cost analysis. Planning is the best way to ensure you’re not getting yourself in over your head.
Bringing your family together to make and discuss your goals is a great idea. This could involve saving, paying debts down and making small sacrifices. Always be aware of the true cost and responsibilities involved to ensure that your goals are both attainable and realistic. I always say that strong families set goals!
Try doing a budget date night!Find out how in our blog post on joint checking accounts!
10. Be thankful and plan for a greater new year.
It’s a possibility that everything may not have been sunshine and rainbows this year. By realizing you have the power to invoke the positive change that you desire, you’ll get started off on the right foot. After all, it’s been said that you have to change your thoughts to change your life.
True contentment comes when you are thankful for what you have and realize that things could be a lot worse. You always want to strive to do better, save more and add more value to your life, but don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re doing great and things will get even better.
‘Tis the season to prosper!
What’s a money saving tip that has worked for you or something you would like to implement in the New Year? Let us know in the comments below!
*Pelican State CU membership required to take advantage of free credit counseling services. Visit pelicanstatecu.com/join to become a member. You have the right to a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or 877-322-8228, the ONLY authorized source under federal law. Credit counseling is not intended to give you financial advice, but the financial education you need to make informed decisions. Results may vary. Pelican and its employees are not responsible for any claim, suit, action or damage resulting from credit counseling.
My name is Kimberly Gaines, and I’m certified through the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors and the Credit Union National Association. I possess over 20 years of financial experience of which 9 of those years at Pelican State CU. I have starred in several #AskPelican videos, where I answer financial questions for our members. Beyond this, I also dedicate time to teaching financial subjects at community workshops and in schools in Pelican’s branch communities.