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Be the Designated Driver of Your Finances This Year

Now that the holidays are over, we begin looking ahead to the New Year. Many of us took part in a traditional meal of black-eyed peas or pork and sauerkraut for good luck. Then we promptly set a New Year’s resolution. We do this in an effort to take our perceived flaws and turn them into something positive for 2011. Visiting the gym more, cutting back on coffee, flossing and saving more money are all common resolutions we make.

Recently, I read about one family in Minnesota who pledged to cut back on spending, consumption and clutter by only owning 100 items. That might be a little extreme for most of us, but we asked our employees for their savings tips and financial resolutions for 2011. Check out their ideas, and then share your own helpful hints!

A Year of No New Purchases
Some are making a pact to reuse, borrow, buy used or go without instead of making new purchases to reduce their impact on the environment and increase their bank account.  I’d like to consider the concept where and when it makes sense to do so.
– Julie, Lititz, PA

Just Say No to Email
Every morning I wake up and check my emails to see what great offers have landed in my inbox that day. Starting on January 1, I am unsubscribing from all the retailers that tempt me to buy. It isn’t that great of a deal if you really don’t need it, so I’m removing the temptation to focus on enjoying the things I already have.
– Lauren, Lititz, PA

Cushion the Blow
It seems that every year, there is one bill that comes out of nowhere, whether it’s my car needing to go into the shop or the oil heater making weird noises. This year, I opened a second checking account and have an automatic transfer of $25 from my paycheck going into my cushion fund. When the bill comes in, I have some of the money necessary to cover the unexpected expense. Plus, it’s a small enough amount that I don’t miss it from the paycheck.
- JoEllyn, Phoenixville, PA

Plan for Guilt-Free Spending
This year I plan to actually put “fun” into the budget.  Most people, myself included, concentrate so much on the bills that need to be paid, saving for the family vacation, and putting money aside for retirement that we don’t spend enough time thinking about how much we can spend on fun things – just for ourselves.  This year I’m going to build going out to lunch, shoe shopping, buying books, and home decorating into the monthly entertainment budget. Why not have a plan in advance for how much I can spend on me and do it guilt free! – Leigh, Lititz, PA

Take Joy in the Little Things
Take an open and honest look at your spending. Do you follow trends or run out to buy the latest thing advertised? Give thought to how you can simplify your lifestyle. One idea is to look at how many hours you must work to accumulate the amount needed for an item. Then, ask yourself if the item you’re about to buy will provide equal hours of use and joy. – Marla, Pillow, PA

Manage Credit Card Spending
Managing the credit card use now will prevent the credit card from managing you in 2011. Spend responsibly. Be the “designated driver” when it comes to shopping and you will be better off in 2011. Spend as if your future depended upon it, because it does. – Dave, Mullica Hill, NJ

What New Year’s resolutions have you made regarding your household budget?

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Posted in Banking Basics, Financial Education.

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