Improve your financial fitness: Smart spending strategies to help you save big

Small changes can have a big impact when it comes to saving money. Create a budget plan to help reduce excess spending, pay down debt and/or accumulate savings. You can do this anytime, but especially after big changes like a starting a new job, buying a house, getting married or having a baby, it’s a good time to review your finances and see where they could use a little workout.

Your financial workout: Help decrease personal debt; increase financial stability, flexibility.

  1. Assess your monthly spending
    Review pay stubs, statements, bills and receipts.

  2. Record money in and money out
    Document income sources, expenses and other spending. Identify trends and areas for improvement.

  3. Identify "wants" vs. "needs" spending
    Review your spending habits and prioritize. Develop a budget that covers necessities (mortgage/rent, utilities, groceries) and debt reduction first.

  4. Look for opportunities to save
    Could you pay less for the same services by changing service providers? Are coupons available for your favorite grocery items? Are you paying for services you rarely use?

  5. Pay down debt
    Pay new bills in full, on time. Set realistic payment amounts and time frames for paying off existing debt.

  6. Save for "rainy days"
    Save now for unexpected expenses and long-term goals like buying a home, retirement or college tuition.

  7. Treat yourself right
    Allocate a portion of your monthly budget for fun and entertainment – it will help you stay on track.

Three easy tips to save some cash

Make these small changes in your everyday spending and notice how the savings can really add up.

  • Avoid the take-out trap
    Restaurant meals are generally more expensive than a home-cooked meal
  • Brew your own coffee
    If you spend $2.50 per cup daily, you may save more than $900 annually without sacrificing your favorite beverage
  • Book it to the library
    Many libraries now allow members to borrow paper and e-books, as well as movies on DVD

This article is based on information available in January 2018. It is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific financial, investment, tax, legal, accounting, or other advice and should not be acted or relied upon without the advice of a professional advisor. A professional advisor will recommend action based on your personal circumstances and the most recent information available.