The holiday season is a time for giving, a time when spreading joy often takes precedence over sticking to a budget. Once the holiday trimmings have been packed away, many Americans kick off the new year thinking about ways to trim costs. If your New Year's resolutions revolve around paying down debt and gaining more financial security, these simple ideas can help you reach your goals.
Take back unwanted gifts ASAP
The holidays may be a time for gratitude, but that doesn't mean you have to hang on to every gift you're given. If you don't like or won't use a particular gift, don't hesitate to take it back and exchange it for cash or a store credit. This is what gift receipts were made for. While you might want to wait for the post-holiday return frenzy to die down, don't wait too long. Check the receipt for the store's return policy, and make sure to take back unwanted gifts while you can still cash in on them.
Prioritize your spending habits
The holidays are a great reminder of what really matters. Thus, the start of a new year is the perfect time to take stock of your finances and determine where you can trim costs. Even if you think you're on a tight budget, chances are you're spending more than necessary on items or services that you don't need and won't really miss much. Ditching a daily cappuccino fix or downgrading from the premium cable package to a basic one could add up to big savings over the course of a year and get you closer to your financial goals. If you prioritize financial goals ahead of daily indulgences, the savings will add up fast.
Conserving energy = conserving cash
If you haven't done so already, it's not too late to weatherproof your home for the winter and take advantage of energy savings. Conserving energy during winter months not only keeps your utility bills down, it can also extend the life of your home heating system. And, of course, it helps the environment as well, which is always a plus. Making sure your home's doors and windows are sealed well is a start, but heavy or insulating drapes and shades can also help keep heat indoors. During the day, open the shades and let the sun's rays naturally warm your home. Adjusting your thermostat by just a few degrees could also save you a significant amount on your heating bill, and chances are, you won't even feel the difference.