No doubt about it — the past 12 months have been unprecedented, but a new year is on the horizon. If you’re like most people, you’ll come up with a list of New Year’s resolutions that center on activities like exercise, improving your diet and climbing the career ladder — but don’t forget about your financial health.
Personally, my husband and I have already started thinking about money moves we can make in 2022 to create the best possible future for our family. Many of the goals we set last year are still applicable, but we’re also looking forward to working toward new ones.
Having a clear plan in place is important, because without it, it’s easy for spending to get out of hand and saving to go by the wayside. Revisiting these goals at least once a year is a must, to make sure the moves we’re making still align with our lifestyle and future plans.
Learn More: 19 Effective Ways To Tackle Your Budget
No matter how much money you have, everyone can benefit from starting the new year with a financial game plan. Doing so will allow you to get 2022 off to the strong start needed to make it your best yet — at least financially speaking.
Cut Back on Food Delivery
During the first year of the pandemic, my husband and I ordered a lot of delivery. As foodies, we missed going to restaurants and wanted to support local establishments as much as possible.
However, after getting vaccinated, we became more comfortable dining outside or picking up the food ourselves — then we had another baby. As fellow parents know, life with a toddler and a newborn is beyond hectic, so we brought our delivery habit back in full force.
If you’ve ever used a food delivery app, you know they tack on plenty of extra charges — i.e., service fees, delivery fees, driver tip — which adds up fast. Now that we’re getting into a routine with the kids, I feel confident we can get back into the habit of picking up food ourselves and dining outside again.
Year in Review: What We Spent Money on in 2020
Step Up Retirement Savings
I’m pretty good about depositing money into the account each month, but I rarely reach the annual maximum contribution amount. On the other hand, my husband earns more than me and has his 401(k) deductions automatically taken from his paycheck.
We’ve realized a need to even this out, so we’re working on a plan to ensure I’m able to save more each month.
Put Aside Money for Taxes
Tax bills can easily creep up on you — especially when you don’t expect them. As a freelancer, I’m responsible for taking taxes out of every paycheck I receive. I’ve been doing this for many years, so it’s become something I do without thinking twice.
However, our property taxes are not rolled into our mortgage, which makes for a hefty bill twice a year. We actually didn’t realize this at first, which made for an unpleasant surprise and some quick budgeting the first couple of times we got the bill.
Now that we know better, we’ve started putting money aside each month for property taxes, to avoid a last-minute crunch.
Prepare for Planned Expenses in 2022
You can’t anticipate every cost you’ll incur in the new year, but if you’re like my husband and I, you have some ideas. Personally, for us, that will involve taking on another car payment, buying plenty of new furniture and home décor and the ongoing expenses associated with having two young kids.
No, anticipating these costs won’t make them any cheaper, but it will help us stick to a budget. Since we know these expenses are headed our way, we can try to cut costs in other areas and save more money to prepare.
Year in Review: Take a Look Back at the Top Money Topics and Happenings of 2021
Budget for a Return to Normal Life
Since COVID-19 is still very much an issue, I haven’t resumed my pre-pandemic lifestyle. However, being vaccinated makes me feel more comfortable getting out a lot more than I was in 2020.
I’m optimistic that a vaccine will be approved for the youngest age group in the near future, which would allow my husband and I to feel confident taking our kids out more. This could mean planning a long-awaited vacation, getting out and doing more fun activities in our local area and entertaining more — we loved hosties parties pre-pandemic.
These costs are certainly welcome, but they still add up, so it’s important to include them in the budget.
Step Up My Kids’ College Savings
College is seriously expensive. Specifically, the average cost of tuition at a four-year institution was $28,123 per year, as of the 2018-19 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
If our kids decide to go to college, my husband and I don’t want them to graduate with a mountain of student loan debt that will take decades to repay. Therefore, we need to start saving more for their education.
Right now, we’re putting aside a little money each month for them, but we realized a few months ago that we need to contribute even more. Saving early will allow compound interest to add up, so that dollar today will turn into several by the time they graduate high school.
Continue Searching For Ways To Spend Less
I don’t consider myself frugal, but I’m a naturally budget-conscious person. For example, I almost always buy store brand everything and pretty much never pay full price for clothes. My husband and I are always on a mission to find ways to save, whether it’s finally cutting the cord on cable or skipping drinks at dinner — pre-COVID, of course.
Personally, I enjoy the challenge of finding ways to stretch a dollar, without feeling like I’m missing out. I will definitely take this strategy into 2022 and beyond, because I firmly believe finding ways to save money should always be an ongoing quest.
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