As we roll into 2020, most folks are focused on healthier lifestyle resolutions. But it’s a great time to get your financial life shaped up as well. A little organizing here, and some shifting of old habits there can make a big difference in your finances over the next year.
Get a grip on your household budget
Let’s start with getting a basic tally of your monthly income and expenses. Even if you’ve done this exercise in the past, it’s smart to reassess how things played out last year. Take the time to go through the 2019 annual summary of any credit cards you have to calculate your average monthly expenses for groceries, gas, dining out, auto maintenance, home repairs, and more. Review your monthly bank statements for costs as well. Revisit medical bills, insurance bills, and such. Then, of course, log all of your monthly household income.
Once you have all that, you’re ready to come up with a plan for 2020. What expenses can be tightened up? Are there some debts you can put more money toward paying off? Do you need to find additional sources of income to supplement what you’ve been bringing in?
The sooner you put a plan in place for 2020, the sooner you can get your finances in a slim, trim shape.
Cut those unnecessary expenses
One of the most significant monthly fees for any household can be the cable bill. If you’ve been thinking about it, the start of 2020 could be an excellent time to cut the cord and switch to one, two, or several of the online streaming services now available. There are dozens of choices for every interest, including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, ESPN, CBS All Access, YouTube Live, Apple+, and Disney+. The right combination can cover all your needs and still come in much cheaper than paying for so many unwanted cable channels.
Your credit card interest rate and benefits are worth considering. Especially if you have a hefty annual fee, are carrying a large balance each month, or have multiple cards. Shopping around for a new card with a lower yearly price, better rate, and better perks can add up to significant savings. Consolidating balances onto the one card with an improved rate can also make lots of sense.
Healthy lifestyle = healthier finances
It’s true; choosing a healthier lifestyle can often lead to better financial shape as well. Start by cutting out most of those carbonated soft drinks filled with sugar and replacing them with water (preferably from a filter rather than single-use bottles). The cost savings will be significant for your wallet and your belly.
Similarly, cutting down on potato chips and processed snacks while replacing them with real veggies and fruit can work wonders on your health and add up big at the cash register.
Finally, by planning a little bit, you can skip lots of those last-minute trips to fast food drive-throughs, or frantic online delivery orders for junky stuff. Grab healthier options at the grocery and prep your breakfasts and lunches in advance in convenient containers to take to work. Have your week’s dinners plotted out each Sunday as well, so you don’t have to settle for unhealthy alternatives. Once again, the financial benefits that come with this are just as compelling as the health benefits.
Making changes can be tough, so start with the easy first step: put down in writing the things you want to tackle, and then prioritize them. Having a detailed reference to keep checking off against always helps.
Good luck on your quest for a healthier financial life for 2020!