The holiday season is often a joyous time for many to share with family and friends. But with recent inflation rates, this year's season may also be a time to consider how to lower your overall costs and build financial security as the new year approaches.
Luckily, you don’t have to completely overhaul your lifestyle. Instead, there are some small changes you can try that will make a big difference. Here are some ways you can try starting today.
Start by setting a weekly budget
Setting a weekly budget is essential. If you spend money without keeping track of everyday expenses, they will mount up quickly. Consider how much expendable money you have each month — after you’ve paid your bills and saved. You can divide that number by four to get a general idea of how much you can spend each week.
But wait, what about those extra, ad-hoc expenses? Whether it's buying a present for a loved one or getting your car fixed, additional costs always crop up. If you don’t have space in your budget for these costs, you’re missing a trick. Create a separate budget for “gift buying” and “emergencies.” Be realistic about what you can afford to save here.
Ditch unnecessary expenses
From streaming subscriptions to unwanted memberships, you could be forking out more than you need. When you’re looking for simple ways to save money, you need to take a magnifying glass to your outgoings. Evaluate whether you need to pay each of these fees. For example, if you have an online entertainment subscription but rarely watch it, you could ditch that one. If you’re paying for a gym membership but don’t go, you should stop.
Save money on meals
When you’re looking for quick ways to cut back, you might want to start in the kitchen. It’s worth looking for ways to reduce the cost of your meals.
Cooking for a family? Low and slow is the way to go. According to a report from CNET, using a slow cooker or Instant Pot costs a fraction of using a regular oven. While these appliances tend to take longer, the overall price of cooking each meal will be less.
Changing your diet will also save you money — specifically cutting back on certain high-cost ingredients. The New York Times reports that the price of meat, poultry, fish, and eggs is up by 14.3 percent when compared to 2021. Attempting some plant-based recipes and expanding on the types of meals you cook is a financially savvy move.
Say goodbye to impulse buying
Not sure where your money is going? Impulse buying may be the culprit. Spending money without taking the time to think about whether it's necessary is a dangerous game.
One way to curb impulse buying is by delaying your purchases. When you’ve found a coat, you just must have or you’ve seen the perfect bed linen, take a moment to think about the purchase. Waiting 24 hours before you make a move gives you time to think. If you still decide that you want — or, indeed, need — the thing then, you can buy it.
Make your commute cheaper
Running a car, or any vehicle, is far from cheap. If you have no choice but to head to the office, it’s well worth looking at more affordable transport options.
There are many options to investigate. You can start out by looking at public transport links or checking out car-sharing opportunities. If you and a co-worker live close to one another, you could both save money by giving each other lifts. If you want to take things one step further, why not invest in a bike and cycle to work each day? Bonus: You will get fit too.
Look for free activities
Boredom can be expensive. When you’ve got nothing to do at the weekend, you could end up spending more than you expect on dinner, drinks, and activities. All of the above will damage your bank account. Fortunately, there are plenty of free ways to have some fun.
Rather than hitting a local restaurant or going bowling, why not check out some free things to do? Look at event listings in your area and see whether there’s anything of interest. From expert talks to networking events, you may stumble upon something you enjoy. Additionally, you could visit free museums, art galleries, or even head to the library.
For More on Personal Finance Topics
If you have more questions about other personal finance topics that matter to you, visit the Learning Center on TD Bank’s website
We hope you found this helpful. This article is based on information available in December 2022 and is subject to change. It is provided as a convenience and for general information purposes only. Our content is not intended to provide legal, tax, investment, or financial advice or to indicate that a particular TD Bank or third-party product or service is available or right for you.
For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.