It’s easy to let long-time habits determine how your budget is allocated, but the new year is a great time to start and maintain a new kind of budget. One of the best ways to evaluate your budget goals for the new year is by analyzing each item based on whether there are reasonable ways to reduce it, and if so, how you will stick with the plan.
Budget Goals for the New Year: Evaluating Fixed Costs
Most of us have fixed costs like rent or a mortgage, utilities payments, monthly subscriptions, and deductions from our paychecks that are removed each month or every two weeks. The best way to evaluate these costs is to consider:
- Can this cost be changed by moving elsewhere or changing providers? Moving to a less expensive home can save you a lot of money over time, or you may get better Internet coverage for less money if you shop around.
- Can this cost be eliminated or replaced with a cheaper alternative? A great example would be the level of television subscription you currently have; if you aren’t happy with how expensive it is, consider a television break for the family for a few months, or switch to a lower-cost package of channels.
- Can this cost be negotiated? Some landlords may be willing to keep their rent at a reasonable level rather than raising rates if you’ve been a great tenant, and if you were considering cancelling a service anyway, you might as well see if attempting to cancel gets you a better offer on price.
Fixed costs are a great way to initiate your budget goals for the new year, since once you change them, they tend to continue to save you money month after month.
Evaluating Variable and Discretionary Costs
Many of our budgets can change month to month, and this can result in a slow creep upward in costs. Look realistically at how much you’ve spent in 2017 on categories like food, entertainment, travel, or shopping and see where you can make changes.
- Is there a limit you can impose to create savings? Choosing to cook at home for more meals than you previously did, or choosing to only watch films after they come out at the video store can be simple modifications to one’s budget that create savings. The key is to not deprive yourself of your favorite things, but rather identify where cheaper alternatives can still make you happy – a night in cooking together can sometimes be a great experience.
- Can planning ahead save you some money? People who prepare their meal calendar in advance can shop in bulk and save money per unit of food, for instance. Many of us have less money than we’d like, so a little extra planning may help us to keep the money in our pockets.
Even with these strategies, it can be hard to make big savings with small budget shifts alone. Your local credit union, Georgia Heritage Federal Credit Union, can make your savings work for you, and prepare for future events like college or retirement. To contact a Member Service Representative at your local credit union in the Savannah Metropolitan Area, visit our website today.