When it comes to getting your financial house in order, sometimes a simple spending resolution or two can make a big difference.
Consider adding some of my "Top 10 for 2010" money-saving resolutions to your list in the new year:
1. Review Your Insurance Policies: It pays to conduct an annual review all of your insurance policies carefully and discuss cost-saving possibilities with your insurance agent. You might find that you have some coverage you no longer need—or didn't even know you had—or that you're eligible for some type of new discount or other incentive. "Bundling" policies through a single insurance company can often lower the total price you pay.
2. Use Up Gift Cards: Did you know that every year billions of dollars worth of gift cards expire unused or lose value? Make a point to use your gift cards (including store credits and rebates) for your very next purchase, before the cards expire or lose value. If nothing else, use your gift cards to get a jump on next year's holiday shopping.You can sell them online (see www.plasticjungle.com, www.unusedgiftcards.com, and similar sites), or donate them to charity (check with individual charities to see if your preferred causes accept donations of unused gift cards).
3. Stop Drinking Bottled Water: According to a New York Times article, you can spend up to $1,400 a year by drinking only bottled water. If you’re content to drink from the faucet, you can do so for about 49 cents. Use the calculator at www.newdream.org to calculate your savings based on actual consumption. It's also worth noting that public tap water is subject to far greater safety standards and inspections than most bottled water.
4. Cancel Your Gym Membership: How's that for a contrary-sounding New Year's resolution? Here's the catch: Go to a local thrift store, buy an inexpensive used bicycle, and then ride it over to the gym to cancel your membership. Bicycling or walking when you run errands will keep you physically and fiscally fit. Same goes for doing your own household chores. The average gym membership now costs about $600 per year.
5. Kick Your Bad Habits: What better New Year's resolution than to kick bad habits like smoking, drinking, and gambling? These cost you money now, but also in the future, because of the health, medical, and other personal problems they cause down the road. Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day is probably costing you about $1,800 a year. Buying a case of beer a week is likely to cost you more than $1,000 a year. A few lottery tickets a week is probably costing you hundreds of dollars every year.