Well, the Christmas tree is (finally!) down and December’s credit card bills have started to arrive – oh joy! (What the heck did we buy, anyway?!) January is a great time to take stock of your finances and figure out how to make your money work for you in the coming year.
My husband and I have common overall financial goals: grow our family’s wealth while paying down our debt. Sounds simple, right?! (Spoiler alert: It’s not that simple.) As it turns out, you kind of need to make a plan… otherwise you’re just flinging money around and working at cross-purposes. I teamed up with the folks at Earnest.com to share the 2017 Money Saving Challenge. If you haven’t heard of them, Earnest is a student loan refinancing company with a great mission: “[making] credit more accessible by reducing the costs and barriers faced by millions of financially responsible people.” Anyone who’s taken out student loans can agree that’s a pretty darn good mission!
The 2017 Money Saving Challenge is broken down into four quarters – and I added four of my own tips and goals for March, June, September, and December.
I actually started my spring cleaning a bit early this year – it must have been those few strangely warm days that messed me up! As a result, I’ve already got quite a few bags of things I’m getting ready to bring to my favorite consignment store (and several others to the Salvation Army!) If you’re looking to sell things online, there’s always Craigslist, but don’t forget Facebook… there are lots of local groups that often move more quickly. Just remember that if you don’t know them, meet in a safe space – try in front of a police department. Maybe I’ve watched too much Law & Order… but whatever… I’ll stop lecturing you now.
Making one extra mortgage payment every year (or car payment, etc., if you don’t have a mortgage yet) has a HUGE impact. Your mortgage can be paid off years earlier and you can save tens of thousands of dollars in interest. You can make the extra payment in one lump sum, or pay a little extra every month, or any way that works for you. However you do it, just make certain you apply this extra money toward the principal and not the interest!
I am a thrifting QUEEN! I spent just about every summer Saturday morning as a child hitting up yard sales with my mom and can’t resist a good rummage in a thrift store. I’m lucky to live in a place where there are great consignment shops too. They’re definitely worth a visit (or two, or three, or more!) as you can get new-to-you looks, and support local businesses, without paying ridiculous prices.
This one is probably the one that’s most near and dear to my heart. Christmas is just ONE day. There is absolutely NO NEED to put yourself in debt for that one day. I really cannot stress this enough. If your friends and family want to go all out, then good for them! Thank them genuinely, enjoy the largesse, and do what you can in kind. But be open and honest with them about what you’re working towards – and don’t feel one bit of shame. You’re building a life here, people!