Happy New Year! 2016, can you believe it? I don’t know about you, but for me, 2015 absolutely flew by. I was looking back at some of the changes I made this year to try and save money and it surprised me how long ago I made some of those changes.
For example, back in January, I cancelled my cable tv. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. I have zero regrets. I had exactly one moment when I wished I had cable tv – I was trying to watch a specific football game. But then I realized that I could watch it online. So it wasn’t on the big tv, but it certainly wasn’t a problem.
So now we’re in a new year and I need to continue to tighten up my finances. Things improved somewhat last year, but I still have more money going out than I would like. So here are some of my financial resolutions for 2016.
Track That Money!
I’ve kept a budget in YNAB for years. Years and years. But I have developed a problem. I don’t look at my budget before I spend money. I spend the money, then enter it into the budget. But that’s not how it should work. I need to make sure that I have the money before I spend it. Obviously, when it comes to necessary expenses, such as a doctor co-pay or car repair, I’ll spend the money and then fix the budget later, but if I’m talking restaurant visits or even groceries, I need to see what I have available to spend before I spend it.
(YNAB has just released a new version which I have yet to form an opinion on, but I will be reviewing it once I’ve had more hands on time with it.)
Carefully Budget Groceries
I spend way too much on groceries. I’ve gotten a lot better about it in recent months, but I need to continue this trend. I signed up for a local CSA that is a bit more expensive than some, but it works well for me because the deliveries are somewhat customizable and I can skip weeks and not pay for those weeks. That way, I’m not spending on food I won’t use. Having fresh produce delivered has meant fewer trips to the grocery store. It’s also meant that I’m eating a lot better, which really is the purpose of the deliveries. I’m also trying to be better about batch cooking and freezing, which has made food seem to go further.
Plan Ahead for Big Expenses
We all have bills that show up only once or twice a year. Insurance payments, various subscriptions, etc. In 2016, I’m going to be better about setting money aside every month so that I’m well prepared for those expenses. No more surprises.
Fix My Tax Withholdings
I’m fairly sure I’m going to be getting a decently sized tax refund this year. While that seems good, it’s not, and I’ll talk about that more later. The goal is to get as close to break-even as possible. So I’m going to work up the numbers this year and reduce the amount of my “interest free loan” to the government.
How about you? What are your Financial Resolutions for 2016?
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.