I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions. Whether that’s because I don’t believe a single day can change my mindset or because I’m too lazy to try, I can’t really say. But every year when someone asks me what my resolution is, I have always responded with a shrug and a quick “I don’t do resolutions.” In fact, the resolution in question didn’t actually start on the first day of 2019. It started on the second, when I took my car in for an oil change and left with an $800 quote to get the front control arms replaced on my poor 2003 Suzuki.
My bank account was already looking a little sad, and with a number of big trips planned this year, I knew I had to buckle down and start saving. Hence, a New Year’s resolution: I was going to save money. Here’s a few ways I’ve managed to succeed (so far!).
1. Start with a tangible goal
It’s easy enough to say “I want to save money.” But what does that mean? It’s a vague statement with no discernible action. So start with something more specific. For me, that was “I will stop eating out.” I had gotten into the habit of buying a latte every morning before class or work and would stop for tacos or a bagel on my way home. I knew that if I could beat that habit, I would save a ton of money, which would help towards my overall goal.
2. Make it realistic
I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep this up for a whole year. I love pasta too much, and going out for food or drinks is a huge social thing for me. So I started with a month. It was a short-term goal that made the experience seem a little more tolerable, and I figured that was long enough for me to break the habit of eating out for convenience’s sake. Of course, you’ll want to adjust these tips to suit your own resolution, like setting the goal to work out four days a week for the month of January if you’re trying to get fitter. By the end of the month, you’ll be more inclined to take on the rest of the year.
3. Bring a friend
A partner is a great idea to help you succeed in your resolution. For me, I knew it would be easiest if I just recruited my entire household, so I roped my boyfriend and our roommate into the plan. As students, they both needed to save as well, so it didn’t take much convincing. The number of times I was driving home from work and wanted to stop for a milkshake is countless, but I always stopped myself when I thought about what my boyfriend and roommate would say. We held each other accountable. It also helped that when I used to go out to eat, it was usually with them, so when we all committed to this resolution together, we found other ways to entertain ourselves, like board games or movie nights.
4. Make it easy for yourself
It’s not like I stopped drinking lattes or eating tacos—that’s definitely not realistic for me. Instead, I started making them at home. My resolution forced me to get more creative, and I came up with ways to sort of trick the system, while still saving money. I spent more money on milk because I always kept it in my fridge for my morning latte, but $5 a week is a pretty big difference from $5 a day. I spent more time at Save-On this month than I did all year in 2018. Every time I was feeling snacky or had a craving, we would go to the grocery store to see what we could do about it. A resolution doesn’t have to mean cutting something out completely. It was okay for me to treat myself and spend a bit of money, but I still followed my specific, tangible goal, and that helped me save money overall (without going crazy).
5. Reward yourself
For us, this was a trip to Bin 4 to get some happy hour burgers (see, still saving!). We had completed our original goal and rewarded ourselves by eating out—but that doesn’t mean we’re going to go back to what we were doing before. I enjoyed eating out a lot more after not doing it for a month, and am particularly enjoying how much more money I have in the bank. We have resolved to limit our eating out to twice a month, and I personally have decided to only eat out with friends in social situations. No more expensive coffees or solo stops at Tim Hortons, but that doesn’t seem so bad now that I’ve done it for this long.
All in all, I did notice a huge difference in my spending habits, and I found that once I started saving on food, I was more conscious of other purchases as well. I stopped online shopping as much, and now avoid clothing stores all together unless there’s something I really need.
Hopefully, these tips can help you with whatever resolution you’ve made, and don’t forget that you don’t need a new year to start working towards a better you! What are your tips for making a change in your life?