2016 was a drag. Regardless of your political affiliation or interest in pop culture, this year was a mess with lots of arguing, notable deaths, and the general feeling of unease. Thank goodness it’s almost over.
If you’re like most people, you probably made a hopeful list last December of New Year’s resolutions to accomplish in 2016. If you’re also like most people, you likely followed through with relatively few of them. While common goals like smiling more or taking up a hobby require relatively little effort, goals like saving more money can be hard, if not downright impossible for some people.
If you follow these five easy financial resolutions, however, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a stellar 2017 without even trying. They’re so simple and so low-effort that anyone can accomplish them without much thought. Best of all, they’ll end up saving you money in the long run and help build your future so you can focus more on things you actually care about.
Invest in what you know.
Setting aside a portion of your earnings is easier said than done. When you invest in stocks and securities that appeal to you, however, it’s a lot more fun than just simply making an investment. For instance, if you like pizza, you can actually invest in pizza stocks. If you enjoy a nice glass of whiskey, you could invest in that, too. If you enjoy God’s green herb, set aside a portion of your earnings and invest in the future of legal cannabis. If you have a hobby or a passion for something, chances are you can invest in it.
Avoid fees like the plague.
Looking to invest in the stock market but don’t want to pay a broker commission? Open an account with a no-fee brokerage like Robinhood. Consider reinvesting all the money you saved by not paying commissions and fees.
If you’re constantly paying ATM fees by using out-of-network ATMs, simply stop using them and use your bank’s ATMs instead. This could end up saving you around $6 per transaction, since you’re being charged for the vendor’s ATM and by your bank. If this isn’t an option, consider switching banks to one with more accessible ATMs.
Put money into your 401k or IRA.
These accounts exist for the sole purpose of helping you save for the future. While giving up a chunk of your hard-earned money for a later date sounds painful, automatic deductions from your paycheck make it less so. Plus, certain 401ks and IRAs comes with sweet tax incentives, so there’s pretty much no reason not to use them.
Take advantage of rewards and loyalty programs.
Stores and restaurants often have loyalty programs that encourage repeat shopping with lucrative incentives. If you’re constantly shopping at one place or buying meals every week from the same eatery and you aren’t taking advantage of their loyalty program, you could be losing out on sweet discounts or even free goods. Loyalty programs always try to get you to buy more, especially when they sign you up for a newsletter and hit you with a barrage of ads. Yet if you join one and keep on with your regular spending pattern, you’ll end up saving money in the long run.
Invest in yourself.
You don’t have to invest or save every penny you make. If you set aside a certain percentage throughout the year (the general guideline is 10% or more) and pay your bills, you’re more than entitled to treating yourself. That doesn’t mean you should spend all of your money, but you shouldn’t be miserable. Have some fun and live a little, but not too much!
Remember: every dollar you invest now is another several dollars in the future. With these five resolutions, you could automate your investments and savings while worrying less about retirement. Once they become second nature, you can focus more on the present and have an eventful 2017.
Let’s just hope it’s better than this year.