Every year, I like to put together a list of frugalutions – frugal resolutions to keep me and my budget on track for the New Year. This year, I’m all about research… and having fun.
1. Resolve to take care of your health. It’s not frugal to get sick, gain excessive amounts of weight, or allow a medical condition to get out of hand. You CAN take control of your wellbeing. First, take baby steps to improve your diet and exercise. Resolve to change just one thing a month, such as, “this month I will eat veggies with every single meal.” Then the next month resolve to lift weights two days a week, and the next month to do a half hour of cardio a day, and so forth. By 2014, you’ll be in the best shape of your life!
Another way to tend to your health? Resolve to have a yearly check up with your doctor. For folks with good health insurance, this resolution is easy. For the rest of us, we have to do a bit more work. If you have an insurance plan, research exactly what that plan offers. Do you get yearly check-ups, or wellness visits? How much do those visits cost? Do they go toward paying down your deductible? Are there other, better plans available that offer wellness visits? If you want to research new and different plans, check out EHealthInsurance.com for a free quote.
And don’t forget your dental health! If you don’t have a good dental plan (or any dental plan at all), I always recommend Herzing University for inexpensive and professional teeth-cleaning, x-rays and more.
2. Resolve to reduce your bills. While you are researching your health insurance, take a look at your other monthly bills, like your phone, cable, Internet and also your credit cards. Are you using all the minutes you pay for? Or are you going over minutes, and getting hit with extra charges every month? Are you perpetually late paying certain bills? Are you being charged an outrageous interest rate? Or maybe you want to make some bigger changes like watching less TV and surfing the Web less, so you might want to reduce your plans.
You want to examine exactly what you are paying for, and see where you can make reductions. Pay close attention to your credit card bills. If the rates are ridiculous, call the companies and ask to have your rates reduced. If they say no? Then those credit cards should be the first ones you pay off in the New Year. Finally, if you’re like me, and you sometimes forget to pay your bills via snail mail, either set up automatic payment with the company, or look into online banking. I use Wells Fargo online banking services, and it is quick, painless, and free.
3. Resolve to fund your fun. Now for something more enjoyable! Sit down with your family and friends and plot out what fun activities you want to do in 2013, whether it’s a vacation or season passes somewhere. Figure out roughly how much those activities will cost, and then put them on your 2013 calendar, so you are committed! Next, ask your bank if you can start a separate savings account that will automatically draw a certain amount of money out of your regular account each month. Once again, Wells Fargo offers this plan, and they’ll allow you to withdraw as little as $25 a month – less than the cost of a dinner out. Here’s the tricky part – don’t touch that money until it’s time to pay for your activity.
The other benefit of planning your fun for 2013? You think about what you WANT to spend your money on, as opposed to just shelling out cash for whatever activity comes up. You set your expectations, and your children’s expectations, and avoid wasting money on stuff you really weren’t that excited about.