Tiny Changes to Make if You're Planning a Big 2020 Purchase
Call it cliché, but the start of the New Year seems like a solid time to reevaluate your spending. If it’s not due to the pressure of setting resolutions come January 1, then perhaps December’s expenses tend to reflect a life that’s more extravagant than any other time of year (the gifts, the travel, the many dinners out). Chances are, you have even grander goals in mind for the year and decade ahead, and now’s the time to start taking steps toward it. Baby steps, even.
Whether your 2020 wish list includes a piece of real estate, a trip overseas, or enrolling in a class you’ve always wanted to take, boosting your resources can begin by simply incorporating a few money-saving hacks into your routine. The tips below offer ways to make the most of the money you’re already spending and spotlights clever tools to save big...even if it's just with your pennies.
There’s no reason to feel like your clothing options are limited to either the women’s or men’s department. In addition to shaking off gender norms, shopping both departments and price comparing are a few of the sneakiest ways to save. According to a 2015 study from the New York City Department of Government, women’s clothing can run 8% more expensive than men’s. So if you’re looking for a few classic pieces, such as a button-down oxfords, T-shirts, or cashmere sweaters, be sure to explore beyond the women’s options. The savings you find in the men’s department could be significant.
While you're perusing category tabs you may have not shopped before, don't forget to use Honey’s free browser extension. It tracks down any and all available discounts and applies them to your cart before making a purchase.
Now more than ever, it’s easy to cut back on unnecessary spending on clothing and accessories simply by going cold turkey and opting for a rental. Thanks to companies like Rent The Runway, the clothing rental market allows shoppers to rent a handful of clothing options at a time, and swap for new styles as often as they’d like, for a monthly fee. There’s no additional cost for shipping or cleaning, and buyer’s remorse becomes a thing of the past.
To determine which rental service is best for you, consider what your annual clothing and accessories spending looks like now, as well as the monthly and annual cost of a subscription. For instance, if you spent $2,000 on on a luxury handbag in 2019, for about $1,900 annually (or $159 per month) you can have an endless, rotating closet of designer clothes and bags from Rent the Runway Unlimited. Meanwhile options like Infinitely Loft and Express Trial Style cost under $100 each month and will ensure your work wardrobe is always fresh, without investing in pricey suiting.
Penny pinching seems rather petty, but there’s something very satisfying when it’s happening out of sight and earning you substantial cash in the long run. There are a number of apps available that do exactly that. For instance, Qapital connects with your bank account to pull funds into a separate account so they can grow toward a specific financial goal. The user also determines their own savings guidelines, be it the 52 Week Rule, Round-Up Rule, or a number of other approaches.
Similarly, mobile app Digit uses an algorithm to track your spending and earning habits in order to determine a small percentage of money to pull into a savings account several times a week. Each deposit is small enough that it won’t affect your usual budget, and yet after several months, the cumulative growth of your Digit savings will give you something to celebrate.
Both of these apps have a small monthly fee for their savings services, but offer free trials. Test drive each to see which has the better ROI for your lifestyle.
You don’t need Marie Kondo to tell you that you probably own too much stuff. It’s at the bottom of a drawer, covered by items you actually do use. Or perhaps it’s sitting in a storage unit that you’re making automatic payments for each month. Now is not only the time to downsize; it’s time to turn it into cash.
Turning a profit on the items you own but no longer use is simple with endless sites that streamline the process. For clothing, Poshmark and Depop offer easy ways to clear out items you no longer wear, meanwhile The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective helps you find a new home for your most luxe (but unwanted) designer goods. For furniture, decor, and other home items, try OfferUp or AptDeco. Meanwhile, sites like eBay provide an all-in-one spot to sell anything you’d like to part with.
One of the last places you want to skimp is on spending quality time with your friends, family, and significant other. It’s for this reason you probably don't turn down many invitations to birthday dinners or Sunday brunches. Thankfully, saving doesn’t mean choosing between money and relationships. To cut back, start by proposing ideas for spending time together that don’t include splitting a $100+ bill. To begin, try swapping out one or two meals each month with an at-home option. This can be an evening of cooking together with your main squeeze or, if you’re so inclined, hosting a monthly dinner or brunch club for your closest pals.
In the end, a $50 trip to the grocery store will stretch much further than just one dinner. And as an added bonus, any leftovers will mean BYO lunch for work the following day.
As old-school as it seems, giving your credit cards and Apple Pay a break can result in more thoughtful spending. For a change of pace, choose a week to rely on cash for the majority of your day-to-day expenses. The more tangible exchange will help raise awareness of how much money you’re spending each day and how often you need to withdraw from your bank in order to do so. It’s an eye-opening contrast to automatically swiping a card and waiting for the bill to come a month later. For long-term results, try assigning a cash-only week once every month or two in order to keep a solid grasp on your finances.
Even though benefits enrollment season is over, don’t wait until next November to think about why they work for you. Use the beginning of the year to make a plan for how your employee benefits can improve your quality of life over the next 12 months, such as by switching your gym membership to a more economical corporate option or using educational reimbursements to enroll in courses that can spark your creativity or improve your skill set.
Remember to also be diligent about using funds you may have set aside at the time for enrollment, including your flexible spending account (FSA) for any healthcare expenses, including routine doctor visits and prescriptions.