Meg Schutte Jan 05, 2024

Want to take charge of your finances? Missed a few savings goals for 2023? Blew your debt reduction plan? From cutting costs, to maximizing your savings, and giving back to others, welcome 2024 with a super smart and positive approach to managing your money. As the new year begins, take a fresh look at your finances, jot down some realistic future goals, and enjoy these 24 tips that could help you be a little more cash flush in the New Year.

 

1. Your New Motto – “Cash & Carry”: Kick off 2024 by keeping credit cards out of your wallet or purse and under wraps. You’ll spend less using cash because not only do you “see” what you’re spending, but you’ll also “feel” it as your money pile reduces in size. This helps to make you think twice about what you really need and make more sound purchases.

2. Skip the Rental Car Insurance:
You know that moment when you’re at the rental car desk and they suggest adding insurance to your agreement... you’re usually in a rush and just say yes. But remember – you are typically covered by your auto insurance and also some credit card companies. Before you travel, double-check your policy and relax knowing you can usually save on this added expense and just say “No.”

3. Check Your Credit Report: Set an alert to do this once a year, if not more often. It’s an invaluable way to spot identity theft, mistakes that could be hurting your credit, any inconsistencies, and review closed accounts. You’re entitled to free credit reports every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Get up-to-date and get yours today at AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.

4. Be Fruitful and Multiply: Next time you hoist a bulk bag of pre-weighed produce (apples, oranges, onions, potatoes) into your shopping cart, weigh it first. Even if the sign says, “5 pounds for $5, some bags actually weigh more than others – giving you some extra bang for your buck.

5. Think “INK!”: Never fails, you’re on deadline and your printer spits out a message that you’re almost out of ink or toner. Switch your text printing settings from color to just black, gray, or blue. This will buy you more time with your color cartridges. Save full color for the fancy stuff. Plus, some fonts use less ink than others, so select Century Gothic, Times New Roman, Calibri, Verdani, or Arial to get more out of your printer.

6. Only Buy What You Can Carry: This is a good trick for only getting what you went into a store for in the first place. Grab a cart or basket and the cost can easily add up as you have all that extra space now to fill. Keep to the plan and you’ll reduce impulse purchases. Toning up your arms is an added bonus.

7. Grow Your Savings with a CD: Make the most of your money by putting it into a Certificate of Deposit or CD account. Benefit from higher interest rates in exchange for parking your cash for a term of time, anywhere from 1 to 60 months. This is a reliable, low-risk way to build your portfolio using money you don’t need for a while. Take advantage of promotional rates by opening a Bank of Hope CD account either online or at a branch. See your options!

8. Be A Cut Above: Need a haircut, color touchup, or maybe a makeup makeover? When you don’t have the cash for a full-on salon experience, visit a beauty or cosmetology school for a much less costly option. Because students are still learning, and under the supervision of instructors, you could head home very satisfied with your new look and pretty savings.

9. The Glass is Half Full:
Plenty of good reasons to install a faucet filter in your kitchen, starting with better tasting water. Not only will it help you save money (and help the environment because you will have less need to use water bottles), but it’s a healthier move as it traps sediment and reduces the presence of chlorine and other contaminants in your drinking, cooking and produce-washing water.

10. Exercise More, Pay Less: Nail that New Year’s “Go to the Gym” resolution by signing up for a membership. BUT, before you commit, check with your employer or health insurance plan to see if they offer incentives, reimbursements and/or group discounts when you join a gym. Buff up and slim down your budget at the same time.

11. Put the “ME” in Your Emergency Fund: It’s all about taking care of your financial situation when surprise bills pop up (and they will!) From needing a new roof, to the pet getting sick or your own medical emergency, even unexpected car trouble or a last minute trip, having extra cash on hand can ease both your financial strain and stress levels.

12. Stock Up On Store Bought Brands: The quality is just as good, and it’s a smarter way to spread out your grocery budget. According to Consumer Reports, you can save about 25% on your final tally by purchasing store brands. Always look at the bottom shelves in each aisle (premium brands are usually placed at eye level for a reason) for low-cost and generic options.

13. Upgrade Your Travel: It’s tempting when booking travel in advance to splurge on the bigger room or the fancier car. Do yourself a favor and wait. When you get to the counter, then check to see if there is a free upgrade or special promotion or perk you didn't know about. It could be your lucky day!

14. Chill Fridge Costs: With all the opening and closing of the refrigerator door, it's not a wonder that the seals weaken over time – sending energy out into the room, and wasting your utility budget. Can’t tell if you have an issue? Put a piece of paper or a dollar bill on the seal and close the door. If you can pull it right out, time to replace those seals.

15. Show Your Dryer Vent Some Love: Regular maintenance of appliances can help them perform better and last longer, not to mention be much more energy-efficient – which adds up to more money savings in your freshly-cleaned pockets. And it’s so easy to clean out the lint trap after every load of laundry. Ignore this habit and risk damp clothes, vent clogs and a call to the repair shop, or worse – creating a possible fire hazard.

16. Let Your Credit Card Entertain You: Perks, miles, points, cash back, and more attentive customer service – these are just some of the beneficial features of credit card reward programs. Day to day, you use your credit card for purchases, travel, bill pay, and other expenses, so get one that rewards your spending every time you use it. If you’re a big shopper or traveler (and even if you’re not), upgrade now to get more value out of your credit cards.

17. Set Up Banking Alerts: Protect yourself from suspicious activity, overdraft fees, and from spending too much by setting up mobile banking alerts. Get on-on-go notifications to stay on top of your checking account balances, cleared checks, deposits made, and other transactions. You can securely manage your accounts anywhere, any time with Bank of Hope Mobile Banking.

18. Scan and Save: While it’s always a good idea to hang on to receipts to make returns, to track expenses, and for tax day (if needed), you can now make some money from them. Just download a receipt scanning app onto your smartphone and earn cash back on regular spending. How it works: you get paid to take photos of receipts from purchases that you upload to the app and are instantly rewarded with points to redeem for gift cards or cash.

19. DIY Shop and Chop: While they can have a shorter shelf life, pre-sliced or cut veggies and fruits make life easier. Watch out though, every “cut” costs you more, sometimes double the price of regular produce. Turn one night of the week or a Sunday afternoon into your own wash, cut and chop prep time – cutting costs in the process as well.

20. Make Sure Your 401(k) is A-O.K.: Take the free money your company is handing out via their 401(k) employee-match programs. Try to put away the maximum allowed of each paycheck and have it done automatically so you're saving more and spending less. Review the percentage each year you’re contributing and give it a raise. Your retired self will thank you.

21. Turn Off ATM Add-ons: Why pay more to get your own money? Withdrawals from ATMs that are not your bank can reduce accounts with fees, sometimes up to $5. A better move is to visit a grocery store or pharmacy where you can request no-fee cash back at checkout when using your debit card. When you can, always visit your bank or another that’s in their network, or keep more cash at home so it’s handy. In a pinch? Use the ATM locator on your bank's mobile app or website.

22. The RX for Your Wallet: When you get a prescription from your doctor or hospital filled, always request generic. Brand-name medicine for both OTC and prescription tends to be more costly. If you’re unsure, check with your doctor or ask the pharmacist to see if a generic option is right for you. They’re just like the brand names, with the same ingredients and formulations.

23. Spend Time Giving to Others: You can donate and help fund a nonprofit or charity and possibly get a tax break. You can also donate your time as a volunteer, your talents and skills (accountant, mentor, chef, driver), and other goods (clothing, technology, automobile, gift cards) and services they might need. You give... and get a lot back for doing so. 

24. Come Out Ahead in 2025: That’s right, not just in 2024 but a year from now. Start by putting more aside to maximize your savings (check out Bank of Hope’s Personal Savings and Money Market accounts) and increase your debt payments ($200/mo x 12 = $2400; Bump that up to $300/mo for a $3,600 reduction towards your balance). Try paying more than the due amount for utilities bills each month and you could find yourself with a “free” month toward year’s-end... and more cash for your holiday gifting budget. 

Meg Schutte is a Bank of Hope Blog contributor.    

The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Bank of Hope. 

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