You may read that headline about budget hacks and think you’re good heading into 2023. Hold that thought. What do they say: “Another year; another dollar?”
If 2022 is any forewarning, each day was worth several more dollars because of rising interest rates and inflation bloating prices to maximum density. Since COVID-19 began, we have adjusted to the “new normal.” U.S. household debt skyrocketed to $15.2 trillion during the height of the pandemic. That’s measured against $12.7 trillion before it all began.
Americans have never had more debt or struggled to pay it off. Wouldn’t you agree we need all the budget hacks we can get? Good thing you’re here because the brilliant minds at Beyond Finance have put their heads together for a must-bookmark blog post.
Here are the six budget hacks you should know for 2023
Fair warning: Some of these will sound familiar. Others may catch you by surprise. One thing is for sure. They wouldn’t be budget hacks if they didn’t work. It took you time to get into these financial straits. Consider taking some time to get out too.
1. Shop Off-Season
Let’s start with something fun. Most people love shopping. And those who don’t love the gifts they get when someone else does. But why do you have to shop at the last minute or in the heart of the rush at the mall?
Consider holiday shopping in September to get your savings to take off. Get that birthday present a few months earlier. (It’s not like you didn’t know it was coming.) You know that swimsuit you want? Buy it now, like during the winter. Your clothing will be on sale, and hardly anyone is buying it, so you have more selection.
2. Redefine Needs and Wants
Yes, everyone “needs” a fancy coffee at that place down the street. But be honest with yourself, do you really “need” it or “want” it? If you can separate needs from wants, you would be stunned at how much money you could save in one year. You need a roof over your head and clothes on your back.
Because of convenience and impulse, you only want that coffee or to go out to eat for the fifth time this week. Create some discipline and make a game out of it. Every time you fight purchasing a “want,” put that amount in savings. Again, be prepared for a shock in the best way possible.
3. Practice the Pause
This is a mental game, and you can do it! The next time you see a “want” and know you have money in the bank, practice the pause. If it’s frivolous stuff, carry it around the store and think about it.
For items below $100, give it a day or two. For anything under $1,000, wait a week. What you will see happen is the things you believe that you must have at that moment aren’t as important as you thought. Be kind to your money and watch the returns come in. (Or, better yet, stay where they are.)
4. Become Eco-Savvy
Before you think anything is wrong with these budget hacks, here’s one you should consider–and it’s simple. Energy efficiency is a money saver.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the average household can save 25% on all utility bills with a couple of easy fixes. Those include:
- Clean the dryer vent and remove lint every time
- Lower your thermostat when no one is home, or even turn it off
- Unplug unused chargers
- Turn off unnecessary water (i.e., brushing your teeth, doing the dishes)
- Use cold water to wash clothes
- Keep your blinds closed and drapes drawn
- Reseal all windows
5. Name Your Money
This is a fun way to budget that has been popular for decades. Essentially, give every dollar a home. Know how much you spend for what bills, and use the rest for saving, sharing, and investing. By “naming your money,” you will keep better track of your funds instead of coming to the end of the month and wondering where it all went.
It’s an ancient secret, but money only goes where you tell it to go. Become an owner of your finances, pay what is owed to others, then pay yourself. This is your 2023 budget. All you have to do is follow it and don’t forget it.
6. Investigate the Bills
Everyone loves home entertainment, and with so many choices with apps, it’s easy to lose track of what is being spent effectively and foolishly. Look at every app and determine the ones that matter the most. Get rid of the rest. After a couple of months, you will realize that you don’t miss them as much as you thought.
The same goes for auto and home insurance, electronics and Internet, cooking in and eating out. All bills should be scrutinized to determine where you can save for today and tomorrow. Without that kind of insight, how will you ever know how savings will affect your life?