The new year is quickly approaching. Whether or not you’re a fan of making New Year’s resolutions, isn’t it time to take control of your spending?

Here are five easy strategies to implement:

1- Focus on reducing your spending in one area

You may have tried numerous times to live by a budget. For some reason, it doesn’t really work for you. You begin enthusiastically, but then quickly fall back to your unhealthy spending habits.

Instead of curbing your spending in every area, focus on one area. For example, if you know you spend a lot of money dining out then focus on reducing that expense.

Begin by limiting how many times during the week you dine out. For example, instead of going out every night try dining in one night per week. Gradually, increase the number of nights you dine at home until you’ve reached your target amount.

Taking a gradual approach to reducing your spending will help you achieve long-lasting success while keeping you motivated.


2- Cancel wasted monthly subscriptions

During January, you’ll receive from your credit card company a report on your spending from 2018. Use this report to identify your monthly subscriptions.

Some monthly subscriptions you can easily confirm because you use them regularly (for me, it’s Netflix). Other monthly subscriptions you may have forgotten about or have replaced with another service (e.g., how you purchase music).

Pay attention to monthly subscriptions that are nice to have but not necessary. For example, you may have a monthly clothing subscription of $50 per month (or commonly seen as $49.99 per month). While the monthly amount seems insignificant, it calculates to $600 per year. Could that money be used for other things you need? If yes, then cancel it and shift that money to pay for something more useful.


3- Review discount purchases

Impromptu purchases are easily made when we receive push notifications on our phone or promotional emails. Stores advertise a fantastic bargain, and you do what they want – you buy it. But do you really need that discounted item?

Spend time reviewing your phone apps and disabling push notifications from companies that are your weakness. Also, pay attention to companies that require you to purchase the discount upfront (e.g., Groupon).

Another strategy is to create a separate email for stores that send frequent promotional emails. In this way, you won’t be tempted every day with a special promotion. Instead, you take control and decide when to check that email.


4- Commit to saving more

Automating deposits into your savings account will help it grow quicker. You’ll set this money aside before you have a chance to spend it.

Start by setting up a direct deposit to your savings account. If your payroll vendor can’t process two direct deposits (one into your checking account and the other into your savings account), then explore if your bank can perform a monthly sweep from your checking account into your savings account.

Other ways to increase your savings include allocating salary increases and bonuses to savings. Also, depositing cash gifts and tax refunds to your savings account help avoid frivolously spending it.

For retirement savings, verify you are maximizing your contribution to your employer-sponsored retirement plan. And if your employer offers a matching program, take advantage of it – it’s free money.


5- Use your credit card benefits

Many credit card companies have robust rewards for using their card but they expect you to overlook them. One benefit most apparent is the point system. For every credit card dollar you spend you accumulate points. Some people regularly use their credit card points, others forget they exist.

If you haven’t used your accumulated credit card points, explore what you can purchase with them. You may find gift cards to your favorite stores and restaurants. If you can’t use the gift cards for yourself, then use them when buying gifts for others.

Other credit card benefits may include discounts on hotels, rental cars, virtual office space, and other services you may purchase. Your benefits may also include protection for your mobile phone and travel.

Look at the benefits for each of your credit cards. Decide which one gives you the type of rewards you prefer and start using only that credit card. This change will simplify paying bills and help you accumulate benefits you can use.


As we roll into the new year, take a fresh look at how you use your money. Implement these five easy strategies to encourage yourself to take control of your spending.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”