For most of us, the cost of Christmas presents, parties and decorations add up quickly — it can be easy to overspend during the holidays. The New Year is a good time to look at your finances and see how you can start saving more money in 2020. Here are a few easy steps to help you set money aside.
Cut out extra fees and service charges
You may be paying more than you need to for basic services, like having a checking account or using a debit card. To find where you might be able to save money, start by looking at the past couple months of statements for each of your accounts. Highlight or make note of any fees or service charges.
For example, many banks or credit unions charge their customers a monthly fee if you don’t have a certain amount of money in your checking account. If so, it may be time to consider changing how you bank. WaFd Bank’s Free Checking* comes with no monthly fee, plus all the banking tools you need, like a free debit card, online and mobile banking, and Bill Pay.
Reduce heat and water usage
Did you know that the average household in the state of Washington spends about $94 a month on their electric bill? That’s $1,128 a year! During the winter, you can save the most money by cutting back on your heat. According to Energy.gov, you can save as much as 10% a year just by turning your heat back 7-10 degrees a day from its normal setting.
If you’re coming home to a cold house, it can be tempting to turn up the heat to warm things up quickly. Unfortunately, this won’t actually heat the house any faster and it can be easy to forget and leave it at this temperature. To save the most, avoid extreme temperatures. If you’re going to be living in your home for another few years, you may want to think about getting a smart, or programmable thermostat, which allows you to set a certain temperature during specific hours of the day.
Making some basic changes to the way you shop for everyday items can mean big savings for you. At the grocery store, buy seasonal produce. Grocery stores usually charge more money for fruits and vegetables that are out of season. For example, in Washington, strawberries will generally cost more in January than in June, due to transportation costs. To find out what foods are in season in your area, visit the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s website, agr.wa.gov.
If you have school-aged children, then check with your child’s school about free or reduced lunch programs. Schools offer discounted or free breakfast and lunch for households with certain income levels, which could save you a lot of money on your grocery bill.
Make saving automatic
This may be one of the easiest ways to save money. Make a plan for how to put money away each month so you’re not tempted to spend it. If you’re able to do so, consider asking your employer to deposit a certain amount of your paycheck into a savings account each month automatically using direct deposit.
Or ask your bank how you can set up a transfer to automatically move money each month from your checking to your savings account. If saving money every month is too much, then consider saving money every two months.
However you choose to do so, make sure your transfer happens automatically — without requiring you to remember to move or transfer the funds. If you’re able to save even just $50 a month, you’ll have $600 put aside at the end of a year — a solid start to a savings account or emergency fund.
Need help managing your spending?
*Free Checking requires twenty-five dollars, eStatements registration and direct deposit to open. Overdraft and return item fees may apply.