Ok ok, you're thinking this is a crazy post being that we're just getting into the holiday season, but why buy into resolutions around some arbitrary date? Sure, it's easy to brush money issues off for when you get that higher paying job, when you pay off your loans or when you get an inheritance.
It's great to have a plan for what you will do when certain milestones are reached. However, you can always start creating better habits now that will pay dividends for many years to come. Plus, with everyone clamoring for 2020 to be over, why not look ahead to 2021 and envision a better version of yourself? Well, here are my tips for a solid year, and if you want to check out more tips in my book, be sure to visit www.financialfives.com!
1. Set Up Automatic Transfers
I can't emphasize this enough. Not only does it save you time, but automatic transfers ensure you stay on track for your savings goals, as well as having your bills paid on time. You can put away 10% of your paycheck into an online savings account each month on the 2nd, along with your Roth IRA contributions, while all your credit cards can be paid on the 5th or whenever your billing cycle closes.
Then, use a tool like mint.com to check your transactions once a week and make sure everything lines up. When you don't have a chance to spend money that you never even see, it becomes a whole lot easier to live within your means.
2. Get a Bike or Light Rail Pass
Many employers are targeting a return to the office date, scary I know! Most of us millennials live in cities or urban areas where we don't need to drive to every single destination.
During my pre-pandemic life, I rode my bike a mile to work every day, even when it snows, although, I probably end up walking to avoid a wipeout. I saw people paying between $12-$18 every day just to park their cars. That's up to $4,500 a year on parking!
If you don't like biking, try public transit or carpooling. You'd be surprised to find your work benefits may have some kind of commuter benefit that pays for a monthly pass.
Plus, the time you spend as a frustrated driver can now be spent reading (a personal finance book of course), socializing or listening to music. Also, many cities have a free metro service for weekdays to get around the inner downtown. Check out your regional transportation provider's website.
3. Don't Sign a Full Year Lease if You Can Help It
Each city is subject to swings in rental rates based on demand, so try to sign a shorter lease and don't let them slap you with surcharges–plenty of places do this.
If you can't, at least try to sublet through someone or take over their lease. Then, when prices change, you can be ready to let the leasing offices feed you grapes and shower you with deals to get you to sign, especially now with apartment vacancies rising in urban centers! Or, if you’re settling down, look into buying if you want to step into this crazy market.
4. Learn Basic Investing Principles
No one is going to care more about your money than you.
Besides, have you asked yourself what all of this is for? Why are you working? Why are you saving? Know the answers to these questions.
Then, go to the library and check out a few investment books. Also, check out some great sites for learning such as www.investopedia.com, www.bankrate.com, andwww.morningstar.com/cover/
You should be able to understand why asset allocation, rebalancing and low fees are important in designing your portfolio. If you don’t understand something, don’t invest in it.
5. Become a DIY-er
If you're 25 or 30 and you have a cleaning service for your place, I'm going to come over and hand you a broom. Seriously, unless you're making six figures and absolutely cannot handle cleaning your kitchen, you should clean your own place.
It takes an hour or less per week, and you can make it fun by putting on music or a timer to see how fast you get done. Other things you can do yourself include ironing your clothes (look at the tag–dry cleaning may not be necessary), painting a room, cooking, washing your car, and more.
If you're a hands-on person, consider teaching yourself how to install a new lighting fixture or change your oil. Not only will it save you money, it'll give you a fresh sense of self-satisfaction!
Gary Grewal is a financial planner, nomader, and the author of Financial Fives: The Top 325 Ways to Save, Earn, and Thrive to Retire Before 65
Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.