New year’s resolutions tend to involve big, heavy goals like starting a side business or getting a real estate license — and that’s exactly why they have such famously sad success rates. In most cases, small, consistent and disciplined actions are what deliver big financial gains over time.
It’s never a bad idea to dream big, but little habits will decide whether or not they come true in the end. The following is a list of small changes that the average person can realistically strive to make in 2023 and beyond to get closer to reaching their financial goals.
Give Your Urge To Spend a Cooling-Off Period
Impulse purchases are budget-killers because they’re inconsistent, unpredictable and often unaccounted for. Reduce the waste of thoughtless spending in 2023 by instituting a waiting period for things that can wait.
“Start by setting spending rules, such as waiting seven days before purchasing any item over a certain dollar amount that isn’t absolutely essential,” said financial security expert Pamela Yellen, a financial investigator, founder of Bank On Yourself, and the author of two New York Times bestselling books. “You will be surprised by how often your urge to purchase something will be quelled if you simply wait some period of time to consider whether the item is truly a need or a want.”
Consumer analyst Julie Ramhold with DealNews.com advises that grocery store prices are projected to continue rising in 2023 after an already brutal year of food inflation. Shopping haphazardly only makes things more expensive, but if you take the time to plan your meals and shop efficiently based on that, you’ll save money while reducing both waste and the time you spend at the grocery store.
“If you aren’t meal planning, you should consider starting, as it lessens the likelihood of resorting to takeout or having trouble figuring out dinner plans after a long day at work,” Ramhold said. “If you meal plan, you should also try to plan around the sales as well. By doing so, you’ll be shopping for groceries, which are expected to largely increase in price in 2023, at their lower prices, which will help you save on your regular grocery trips.”
If you know you have to buy a winter coat, a computer, a car or anything else in 2023, plan ahead to pick your moment so you’ll be ready to pounce when prices are lowest.
“There are good times of year to shop for most items, including big-ticket purchases,” Ramhold said. “By making sure to shop for those items at the best time, then you’ll end up saving more compared to if you purchase just when you want to. So for instance, Presidents’ Day sales in February are really good for mattresses and large appliances, while Memorial Day sales in May can be a great time to shop for clothing that’s suitable for warm weather. And, of course, Black Friday in November is a good time to shop for practically anything you can think of.”
It might sound hard to believe, but a few minutes every 30 days could mean the difference between you reaching your financial goals or not.
“Small changes lead to big results,” said Taylor Squeglia, a personal finance coach who specializes in budgeting and dedicated an entire podcast episode to this specific subject. “The first small change should be evaluating your spending monthly or quarterly. I encourage my clients to do this monthly and create goals based on the spending. Another small change is to take a high spending category and cut it back a little at a time. For example, if your groceries are a high spend category then evaluate what you spend weekly and see if you could cut it back by $30. That is a small amount that leads to over $1,500 saved a year.”
Save money this year and beyond by reducing consumption wherever you can. Start by turning off lights when they’re not in use and by switching to energy-saving appliances.
You can find comprehensive energy-conservation tips at the Department of Energy’s Energy Saver website.
Yellen cited studies that have linked a conscious practice of gratitude — such as writing in a gratitude journal for a few minutes every morning — with beneficial effects on people’s health, relationships, emotional well-being and careers.
“But did you know it also helps you become a strategic spender? When we practice gratitude, we feel wealthier and more prosperous in all ways,” Yellen said. “Our self-esteem is greater and we just generally feel happy and appreciative of many aspects of our lives. Because of this, we’re less likely to crave material goods to feed an emotional need. And, studies have shown that having a grateful attitude actually enhances our ability to make good decisions.”
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