Improved finances are the second most popular New Year’s resolution next to losing weight. Use these five tips to get your household budget in better shape.
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As they say with any type of goal setting and especially for New Year’s Resolutions, don’t try to accomplish everything. Choose at least one to two from the list that you can feasibly try to accomplish for the year and go from there.
1. Create a budget and stick to it.
It’s hard when you’re a new homeowner because you want everything as soon as possible: new blinds, new floors, new furniture, wall art and new televisions…the list goes on and on. However, you have to pace yourself, even if that means you have to set some limits. For example, instead of purchasing something for the home on a daily or weekly basis, commit to only making one home-related purchase a month (or every other month). If possible, have someone hold you accountable for your purchases.
Another easy way to help maintain and stick with your budget is through couponing and bargain shopping. Although I don’t consider myself an “extreme couponer,” I definitely try to shop at places where coupons are welcomed. Also, before I go to a certain store, I will search the weekly ad circulars for specials at deals, whether local or online, to ensure I get the best bang for my buck. I’ve seen plenty of items at high-end retail stores, but somehow I found a way to still get the look I wanted but at a more affordable price and without sacrificing quality.
At the top of my personal budget sheet, I have written, “If I don’t need it, then don’t buy it.” Let this short and simple phrase serve as a friendly reminder for you to think twice about what you truly need and when you need it versus what you want at that moment. Download the sample budget here.
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2. Strive to be more energy efficient in your home.Take control of your budget and reduce your monthly utility bills by implementing some energy efficiency techniques throughout your home. These small changes can yield large impacts over time as it relates to your water, electricity, gas and more. For example, make an effort to use less water by limiting the amount of time you and your family spend in the shower. When brushing your teeth, only run the water when it’s time to rinse.
Remember to turn off the lights when you leave the room, and unplug electronics when they’re not in use. I came home the other day and realized the porch light had been on overnight. That was obviously a waste of electricity and will likely add more usage to the utility bill. Have some fun with it and take it a step further by turning it into a challenge for you and the family as a friendly competition. For more great and useful tips for making your home more energy efficient, check out these guides.
3. Eat out less. Cook more.Life gets hectic when you’re working full-time, going to school or especially when you’re managing your family’s schedule. Nevertheless, you might have to make small adjustments, like prepping and cooking meals for the week. Just make sure you prepare enough to last.
Although we’ve significantly reduced how often we go out to eat at some of the mid to high priced range restaurants, there's still an opportunity for us to include this as part of our New Year’s resolutions. When I think about how often my husband and I eat at one of our favorite quick, to-go spots, we could easily save almost $20 - $50 a week. That adds up to roughly $80 - $200 a month and almost $1,000 a year! Even if you have a favorite dish at a particular restaurant, try re-creating the recipe at home to help save costs.
4. Trim back on your budget by trimming your own hedges.Almost every new homeowner wants their yard to look as nice as their neighbors. When it comes to lawn care, it’s fairly simply to find a professional who will take care of your landscaping on a regular basis. Even though it may require a little more effort, choosing to do your own lawn work can definitely help you save more. And if you want to get a little extra help every now and then, enlist the help of a teenager, or someone in the neighborhood that you trust, who's looking to earn a some extra cash. You'll save by not having to pay a landscaper hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars a month.
5. Try a DIY project.
One thing I’ve learned as new homeowner is there’s always a project – whether it’s updating your kitchen, painting the walls, adding a patio or additional enhancements throughout the home. Instead of spending all of your budget on new things, think about starting a DIY project for the New Year. It can help cut costs tremendously.
For example, don't hire a painter. You can save a lot of money by choosing to do your own paint job. Trade the purchasing of new furniture, and find a way to build or create the needed piece by using non-traditional materials. You'd be amazed by the number of projects you can do for much less just be recycling items you may be likely find around your home. Whether you’re searching through the AHS® Home Matters blog or Pinterest, you can find a plethora of creative ideas for updating, creating, organizing and decorating your home.
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Bonus: Help protect your budget with an AHS Home Warranty
Over time, the appliances and systems that keep your home running will break down from everyday use. And, the cost of repairing or replacing them could really set you back. With an American Home Shield® Home Warranty, you pay a consistent monthly fee and a set Trade Service Call Fee when you request service on a covered item.
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