December 21, 2012 quietly came and went. There was no catastrophic shifting of poles, no black holes, no planet Nibiru and not a zombie to be seen. It seems the Mayans were wrong, and life will go on after all. So we hope you haven’t been spending like there’s no tomorrow. If you were – or even if you weren’t and just want to tighten your budget a bit in 2013 – we have some personal finance resolution suggestions to get you back on track in the new year. Check them out below.
- Eat in. This simple tip is a two-for-one resolution deal – it’ll help your pockets get fatter and your waistline get thinner. Eating out every once in a while is a great treat, but doing so regularly can seriously drain your funds. It’s much cheaper to buy ingredients and cook your dishes at home. And it’s healthier too – you’ll cut calories by avoiding those sneaky thousand-calorie salads and monstrous plates of pasta.
- Take note. Most credit card companies will send you a report at the end of the year that details your transactions and breaks them down into categories like restaurants, bills, and shopping. We know it can be scary to see how much you really spent on shoes last year. But take a deep breath and check out those figures. It’s a good way to see if your spending has gotten a little out of control. The first step to fixing any problem, after all, is becoming aware of it.
- Go to the library. We totally agree that reading is sexy, but let’s face it – books are kind of expensive. Thankfully, there’s an ancient and wonderful institution called the library that can help you both feed your brain and save your money. A library card costs zero dollars and gives you access to any book your heart desires – and usually lots of movies and music too. If you’re an e-book person, many libraries are now using Overdrive, a digital lending platform. With Overdrive you’ll also save money on gas or bus fare since you won’t even have to leave the house to get that new bestseller.
- Cool it with the coffee shops. If you’re anything like us, coffee is the wind beneath your wings. You drink a lot of it – It’s the substance that keeps you afloat during the work week and powers you past your weekend hangovers. We know that Starbucks wants to make it even easier for you to drop that $6 on one of their mocha latte frappes with their newfangled mobile payments scheme, but just say no to this clever little marketing tactic. You can make coffee at home for pennies, and those pennies really add up over time.
- Get into the groove. Do as her majesty Madonna once said and get into the groove: prove your love of holding on to your hard-earned cash by checking your credit card statements regularly. Giving your statements a thorough and regular checkup can help you avoid losing money for stupid reasons (like being double charged) or for scary reasons (like fraud).
So the rapture didn’t come this month and you have to be financially responsible after all. Don’t fret – it’s not as hard as it seems. With these tips in your personal finance survival kit, you’ll be able to face this brand-new financial age head on. Do you have any financial resolutions this year? Let us know about them in the comment section.