Happy New Year’s Eve! Once the champagne and kisses and poor decisions are out of your system, you’ll probably begin thinking about how you can improve your life for 2016. Here are a few New Year’s resolutions you can make to save your wallet this coming new year. In fact, these methods are so painless, you may not even notice the changes—until you see your bank statement with a much higher balance than you’re used to having.
1. Stop buying bottled water. If you live in the first world, it’s the same as what’s in your tap.
2. Buy in bulk only if it makes sense. Paper towels, toilet paper, and the like won’t expire, and some sites offer additional discounts for subscribing to have them delivered periodically. Splurge when there are discounts available. Sephora carries the only foundation that matches my weird super-pale-yet-somehow-still-olive skin, and it’s not cheap. However, it’s much less painful to buy a bunch of it when they have 20 percent discount offers for Beauty Insiders than it is to plunk down $50 a bottle throughout the year. Follow that mindset with things that won’t expire.
3. Actually read your credit card term agreements. Some cards charge an annual fee if they never collect interest, so in some cases it may actually be good to keep a small balance (think no more than double digits) on a card.
4. Use cash. It’s easy to throw down a lot of money when you don’t actually have to stop and count it out.
5. Save your change. A penny saved is a penny earned. Saving your change from purchases can add up after a year. Either toss it in a savings account or use it to treat yourself to something. You earned it.
6. Do basic math to find out if you’re actually getting a bargain. I’m going on vacation for nine days in January and working remotely for three more. I only take the subway on weekdays. With that in mind, getting my usual unlimited ride MetroCard would actually cost me more than just paying per swipe this month. Don’t be too lazy to figure this stuff out.
7. Get paid by check or direct deposit. If you’re being paid by PayPal, they deduct a fee for certain amounts (think Coinstar, but bigger numbers). Ask for a check instead. It may take longer, but you’ll keep close to 10 percent more of your hard earned money this way.
8. Be generous only when it makes sense. I hate seeing homeless people begging for money. It hurts. I get it. Giving the guy $5 may make you feel better in the moment, but it’s like putting a tiny bandaid on cancer. You’re not fixing the problem. Donate a bigger chunk to a tax deductible charity that works with a cause you support and actually make a difference.
9. Carpool. Have your pals chip in for gas, parking, and tolls and you’ll all save money.
10. Go generic. For items where it makes sense, it’ll save you a ton of money over the year, and chances are you won’t notice a difference in quality.