As I write this, we are at the end of 2016. I'm not cynical like so many of us about the whole New Year's resolution thing. I like the yearly reminder to re-examine and adjust our habits. Many folks are looking to improve their financial situation and a change in your routine may be in order. Here are a few tips before you dive in:
Just a little bit.
Start saving. Wealth is the long game for most of us. Focus on the habit first, and know it'll take a while before you see results.
Start with saving just a dollar a month. Think you can do five dollars? Great. Don't go crazy. This is about building the habit, not increasing your net worth (yet). Transfer the savings to a separate account. Do it every month. Better yet, make it automatic.
Frugalize Your Food
Food is a budget buster for a lot of people. Housing and transportation too, but it typically take s a bit of long term planning to change those. Food you can change today, or on your next trip to the grocery store. A few quick reminders:
Make Coffee at Home
If you're a daily bean drinker, seriously - you need to make your own coffee. The cost is not even close. Unless there's free coffee at work. Then drink that.
Pack a Lunch
I know this is tough to get rolling, but stick with it. I eat the same thing for lunch during the week. It's a full on habit now; I know what ingredients I need on hand and I plan it into my meal prep when I prepare for the week. It's nutritious, palatable, and meets my need. I'm pretty busy/distracted when I lunch so I'm not looking for a culinary experience. For an even easier approach with more variety, pack leftovers! Which brings me to..
Learn to Cook
There are gobs of articles, videos and books on cooking. Look them up. Just keep this in mind:
Steer clear of fancy, "hip" ingredients. Most superfood-y, exotic ingredients have a ho-hum alternative that cost less or can just be omitted altogether (and the food still tastes good)
Pick recipes that us the same core ingredients so you can buy in bulk and reduce waste. Make this week a Chicken Chowdown, Eggs Extravaganza, Hungry Hungry Hams (I can go on...)
Cook what you like. Yes, watch the price and look for deals but don't buy something you hate just because it's cheap. At the same time... be open to trying new things and eating stuff that's just good and maybe not chain restaurant high fat/salt/sugar great tasting. Just about anything you make at home will be batter for you too; win!
Keep doing it.
This is the key. You don't have to be perfect; just don't stop. Keep saving (just a little bit). Did you skip grocery shopping? Go now. And don't beat yourself up when you slip; just get back to it.
Happy New Year nerds!