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 2023 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.
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 2023 off to the strong start needed to make it your best yet — at least financially speaking. Here’s a look at money moves my husband and I are making to set ourselves up for good financial health in 2023.
Cut Back on Food Delivery
In the pre-pandemic era, my husband and I rarely ordered delivery. But when COVID hit, we missed going to restaurants and wanted to support local establishments as much as possible.
After getting vaccinated, we became more comfortable dining at restaurants 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 used to having two kids, we’re back to in-person dining, and I feel confident we can also handle picking up takeout on those days when no one wants to cook.
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 I started stepping up my contributions a few months ago. However, I started this a bit too late to reach the maximum contribution limit in the 2022 calendar year, but I’m on track to change that in 2023.
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 2023
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 tackling some home improvement projects, paying newfound preschool tuition and continuing to buy furniture and décor to make our relatively new home our own.
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.
Budget for Family Activities
Since the pandemic began, we’ve been on the seriously cautious side. However, everyone in our little family is now fully vaccinated, so we’ve been a lot more comfortable stepping out of our bubble lately.
We love to travel, so this means we’re ready to start taking trips with our kids again. This is super exciting, but vacations aren’t cheap, so we’ll need to start including travel in our budget.
There’s also a lot of fun things for kids to do in our local area — i.e., museums, aquariums, botanical gardens, swim clubs — so we also want to budget for family memberships to several of these spots.
Step Up My Kids’ College Savings
College is seriously expensive. Specifically, the average cost of tuition at a public four-year institution was $9,400 per year, rising to $37,600 per year at a private nonprofit institution, as of the 2019-20 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, skipping drinks at dinner or using credit card points to pay for hotel rooms when we travel.
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 2023 and beyond, because I firmly believe finding ways to save money should always be an ongoing quest.
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