Updated Jan. 1, 2021: It’s the New Year, which is the best time to reflect on all the money things you did (or didn’t) do in the past 365 days and set financial goals for next year.
New year, new you, right? As we think about what 2019 will bring, we also think about improving our money habits.
If you don’t know where to begin, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of 50 realistic money resolutions to get you started on tackling all of your goals next year.
1. Get granular with your major goals
Whatever major goal you set — like paying off debt or saving more — make sure you break it down into specific and attainable elements. Define what you want to achieve, like paying down $100 of credit card debt each month or only spending a certain amount on eating out every week.
2. Make a budget (& actually stick to it)
An oldie, but a goodie. A budget is the easiest way to keep track of how much you’re spending and saving — try this easy spreadsheet to get started.
3. Go cash-only
Going cash-only makes it easier to track where your money is going and set spending goals. Here’s a quick explainer on how to go cash-only.
4. Be better about paying yourself first ...
Of course some of your paycheck should go to bills and essentials, but paying yourself (meaning setting some funds aside, whether for retirement or a vacation) is going to help you feel the reward of the work you did to earn that check.
5. ... but still have savings goals
Even if it’s just a small portion of your paycheck, saving a little can go a long way. A good rule of thumb is contributing 20% of your paycheck to your savings — but follow these tips and you can save up to 30% of your paycheck (mostly) without trying.
6. Start paying off your credit card
Credit card rates have hit a 20-year high. Make a plan to shrink your balance before interest grows too fast. (Again, by being granular with how much you'll put toward the balance.)
7. Set a dining out budget
If you aren’t paying attention to how much you’re spending by getting lunch with coworkers or picking up dinner on your way home, it can be detrimental to your budget. Instead of saying you can’t do this at all, just figure out how much you’re comfortable spending on this line item.
8. Enjoy office (or home) perks more
Cutting back on buying coffee is one of the most overused financial tips, but we don’t think you have to stop going to your favorite coffee shop. Instead, drink the office coffee or some from your home machine to save just a bit each week.
9. Get more creative with meals
Taking the time to cook up all your lunches over the weekend pays off during the week — both in time and in money. If you aren’t sure what to make, try this $1 lunch recipe or this easy chili recipe that will last you until Friday.
10. Make your savings work for you
If you’re putting your money in a savings account, make sure it’s paying you the best it can in interest. One option is to check out online high-yield savings accounts, which tend to offer higher payouts.
11. Finally set up automatic transfers
Instead of worrying about moving money over to savings when you get paid, see if your finance department can automatically deposit a set amount into a different account. This way, you don’t have to think about saving.
Pro tip: Make the account at a different bank that you don’t frequent so you are less tempted to access (aka spend) these funds.
12. Prepare for the future by upping your 401(k)
Even just boosting this up a percentage point can save you big over time, thanks to compounding interest. If your employer offers 401(k) matching, make sure you're taking advantage of it.
13. Or roll over your old 401(k)
If you’ve left your retirement money in a bunch of old 401(k) accounts, you may be able to lower your expenses and expand your investment options by rolling the money over into an individual retirement account. Start by contacting your employer to find out how.
14. Open an IRA ...
Saving for retirement isn’t just for those with 401(k)s. Make 2019 the year to open an IRA and set up automatic contributions so you never forget. Don’t know where to start? Check out this easy guide to opening an IRA.
15. ... & try to contribute the maximum amount
Pro tip: The annual maximum contribution limit will go up starting Jan. 1, 2019, from $5,500 per year to $6,000. Take advantage of the new maximum to save more in 2019.
16. Diversify your investments ...
Make sure you have a balance of low-to-high risk investments to protect your money.
17. ... but protect your biggest investment: You
You may feel young and healthy, but anything can happen. Long term disability insurance is income protection if you’re unable to work for a long stretch if you become disabled, and something every working person should look into.
18. Simplify your financial documents
Get all your bank, credit card and other billing statements sent to your inbox instead of your mailbox to get rid of clutter. You can usually request the change via your online account.
19. Keep tabs on that three-digit number ...
Your credit score, that is. It can affect things like insurance rates and home loan interest. Check your score a couple times a year to make sure you’re financially healthy. If you are worried about your score ...
20. ... take steps to improve it
It may take some time, but you can improve your credit score by paying all your bills on-time, keeping credit card balances low, limiting new credit applications and disputing errors on your credit report. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out this guide to improving your credit score in 30 days or less.
21. Use your credit card rewards
Whether you’ve got cash back or flight rewards, make sure you’re redeeming them instead of letting them sit idle.
22. Pay your bills as soon as they come in
Goodbye late fees!
23. Make it a habit to review your credit card bills
After all, you don’t want to pay for a charge you didn’t make — also, charges you don’t recognize are often a sign of identity theft.
24. Update your tax-withholding
The Internal Revenue Service has a calculator that uses pay stub information to tell you actually how much your should be paying them during the year.
25. Get your estate plan in order
Online legal sites, like Policygenius partner Trust & Will, can help you create a will in a matter of minutes. There are other ways to protect your family after you’re gone, like ...
26. ... buying life insurance
Don’t know where to start? We’ve got a crib sheet for getting financial protection for your family right here.
27. Don’t go over on your grocery budget
Check out these 50 ways to save on your grocery store visits.
28. Make small adjustments
Only drink half of your coffee in the morning? Start ordering a smaller size. Instead of getting pizza delivered, go pick it up. You may not notice a small price difference on individual purchases, but it adds up over time.
29. Ditch unhealthy habits
Not only is doing this good for your health, but it can save you money in more ways than you might realize, like lowering your life insurance rates.
30. Be OK with saying no ...
Sometimes, FOMO gets the best of us when we can least afford it. Don’t be afraid to say no to a night out with friends if you need to save money — they will likely understand, and your wallet will thank you.
31. ... but don’t be afraid to say yes, either
Not every money resolution needs to be about scrimping and saving. In 2019, make sure you enjoy the money you have, too. Set up a ‘splurge fund’ for all the fun you plan to have this year.
32. Talk about money with your partner ...
Make it a habit this year to not shy away from the topic of finance and savings with your spouse or significant other. Being transparent about finances may help your financial future and your relationship.
33. ... & talk about money with your kids
Here are 50 ways to make it fun.
34. Review your homeowners insurance ...
This year’s storms and wildfires caught revealed many homeowners were underinsured. Don’t wait until tragedy strikes to see if you’re covered — review your policies now.
35. ... & your auto insurance
While you’re at it, shop around your car insurance to make sure you’re getting the best rate and coverage for your car.
36. Review what your health plan does (& doesn’t) cover
To avoid expensive surprises, read your policy carefully to find out exactly what is covered and what is not — like what hospitals and providers are in your network, and how much your out-of-pocket maximums are.
37. Learn how to read medical bills
Hopefully you won’t ever need to use this skill, but you’ll be glad you have it in case you do. Here’s an explainer on understanding a hospital bill.
38. Get money advice hand-delivered to you
To your inbox, that is. One small money task can really add up over the course of the year. Sign up for the Policygenius newsletter and get started.
39. Automate your bills
An easy way to make sure you are on top of your payments is automation. Set up auto-pay on your recurring bills and never miss a payment. Many companies offer discounts for doing so.
40. Update your passwords on a regular basis
The hack to help you keep from getting hacked? Set super strong passwords. Here are some tips to strengthen your accounts.
41. Negotiate for a higher salary or a raise
Find the courage to ask for a raise at your next review. If you’re job hunting now, read about how you can leverage your skills and experience to land a higher starting salary.
42. Make a hobby profitable
Looking for ways to earn more money? Adopting a side hustle or doing freelance work on the side can boost your income. Don’t know where to start? Here are eight side hustles that cost nothing to start.
43. Find financial resources you trust
There are many places to tap to get financial wisdom, from magazines to apps to financial planners. Finding the one that works for you can help you continue to improve your financial health.
44. Find easy ways to save on electricity
Considering replacing your old traditional light bulbs with something more eco-friendly and energy-efficient, like LED bulbs. Or, consider installing a smart meter in your home.
45. Double dip on the savings
Not only is cutting back on electricity use good for the environment, but it also saves you money in utilities and may even lower your homeowners insurance rates.
46. Repair before replacing
It’s better for the earth and your wallet if you can fix your broken furniture and electronics instead of throwing them away. If something breaks, contact the manufacturer to see if they offer low-cost repair or find out if you can bring the item to a nearby
47. Cut the cord
Cable is expensive — and sometimes unnecessary. Thanks to streaming services, you can get TV without cable and save money in the process. But, if you have 10 subscriptions and only use one ...
48. ... rethink your streaming subscriptions
If you haven’t been on Netflix for a couple months or just want to take a break, you can pause your subscription until you’re ready to watch again.
49. Review all your subscriptions
Out with the old, in with the new — go through all your memberships and subscriptions to see what you're paying for that you don't use. Think gym memberships, magazines, credit card fees and so forth.
50. Stop procrastinating
When it comes financial moves, it’s easy to put off tasks like paying bills or checking your credit score. But it 2019, you’ll find that it’s even easier to get these money tasks done now. Overcome your money procrastination with these tips.