Monday, January 7, 2019

Ways to Save This Month

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I am all about being frugal all year long, but recognize the pinch of January.  Once December spending craziness is over, January is quiet enough that you have time to reflect on how much money just left your possession.  Damn those holidays and our generous natures.  So I have a few ways to save money this month to share with you, mostly related to this particular season.  I plan to have a different version each month for you, to help us all save as much as possible in 2019.

1. Regulate the Heat.  You had to know this would be the first savings tip in January.  Heating your home is expensive!  And January is the coldest month here in Chicago.  Although it's in the 40s all this week, which is downright warm to a Chicagoan.  We wash our cars in the driveway in this weather.  But despite global warming, it'll likely get cold again and it may be colder where you are, so keep an eye on the gas bill by watching your heating usage.  We use the Nest and I cannot recommend smart thermostats enough.  The automatically switch to 'eco friendly' mode when you're not in the house and turn the heat down to something that costs way less but doesn't freeze the pipes.  For us, it usually turns it down to 59 or 60, which my winter loving dog is perfectly happy with.  John cranks it up by a few degrees when he gets home.  Or on his way home, since he can do that from the Nest app on his phone.  If you don't have one though, just remember to turn it down a few degrees before you leave the house for the day.  And while you're at home, remember to use layers.  If you're wearing short sleeves, shorts, no socks - your heat is cranked way too high.  Bundle up, it's cozy!

2. Start a Savings Challenge.  There's so many savings challenges that last all year, so get started now.  It usually involves saving a set amount for 52 weeks so you have a ton of money saved up by Christmas.  By taking these small steps each week, you'll save so much by the end of 2019 without really feeling deprived.  Search for a version on Pinterest that will work best for you.

3. Return Things.  Don't let Christmas gifts go to waste.  If you got multiples of something, return one.  If you overbought and now regret it, return some of the things you don't need.  And if something you don't love came with a gift receipt, return it for something you need, or at least get store credit so you can save it for later in the year.  People want to gift you things that you appreciate, so if they missed the mark, they're not going to be offended that you exchanged it for something that adds value to your life.  (Well, most people won't.  If you have someone who asks after their gifts come July, you already know they're 'that person.')

4. Clear the Pantry.  And the fridge.  A lot of food comes in during December because of the holidays, and there's always leftovers.  You might have also bought a few ingredients for dishes and have the extras still sitting around.  Take January to clear out this mini stockpile of foods and save money at the grocery store.  Eat the leftovers, and use sites like Supercook to find ways to use up the leftover baking ingredients before anything goes bad.

5. Take a Break from Drinking and Eating Out.  These things cost so much money but January seems to be the one month where there aren't many events to celebrate or go out for.  Not having a cocktail for a month is much easier now that it is during street fest season!  Use this month to stay in and adopt healthier habits and watch how much money you save.

6. Get a Library Card.  While you're staying in and avoiding spending money on dining out and drinking, you might as well get yourself a ton of books to read.  The best resource for this is the library, so get a library card if you don't already have one - your taxes are paying for it anyway.  The library doesn't have just books though, you can also get movies, e-books and audio books, music, even free passes for museums.  It's a great resource.

7. Clean Out a Closet.  It's so nice to refresh everything in the new year, but it can also save you money.  Well, make you money actually.  Get rid of clothes you won't wear again by selling them on Poshmark, ThredUp, Ebay, whatever your choice is, and make a little money back on your pieces.

8. Create a New Budget.  New year, new finances.  Budgets take months to perfect, and even then it never goes exactly as you intend at the start of the month.  But you can make huge strides in your financial goals if you start with a simple budget for January.

How are you planning to save this month?

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