Hey Loves, hope everyone is having a great week! We all want and know the importance of saving money, but life always seems to get in the way. 2016 is the year for prosperity and savings! I am excited to continue our Journey to a new you with Forever Freckle’s next expert blogger, Jamie Flesher. Jamie has over 15 years of experience helping families plan for the here and now, the future, and the next generation. This article has some amazing tips on how to start 2016 on the right foot. Without further ado, The Money Momma!!!
January is the time that most of us think of new beginnings and ways that we can improve our life style. Coincidentally, January is also the month that most of us should take a good look at our finances, prepare our family budget, and of course look for great ways to really save a few extra dollars in the new year. Below are 5 of Jamie Flesher’s, aka the Money Momma’s, favorite tips for a financially fit new year. As always, not all decisions are financial and unique family needs should be considered prior to applying any financial strategy.
#1: Add more to your retirement account: The first place to really save some money is in a matching 401K plan. If the current contribution is not already maxed out to the company match, consider raising the annual contribution a few percentages to meet that match. Already maxed to the match or IRS max? Start allotting dollars to a Roth IRA. Upping a retirement contribution by something small like 3% is unlikely to affect a person’s lifestyle. However these types of accounts grow tax deferred and the 401K contribution happens before taxes. This is akin to being handed free money and a great way to increase overall household savings. Please note in a lot of instances there are penalties for using funds before a certain age.
#2. Re-evaluate the current childcare plan: It’s a new year and sometimes things can change in terms of what makes most financial sense with childcare providers. For example, while it may have been more comfortable to leave a newborn or infant with a one on one caregiver, it’s possible that a toddler (and the entire family) would benefit from a less expensive nanny share. Similarly, if there has been an addition to the number of children in a family needing childcare, it may make more financial sense to use a family nanny than to to pay an additional daycare tuition. Things should also be looked at with a fresh eye if any children have recently begun full day grade school.
#3. Ask for a cash discount: On everything. There are many products and services that will discount the quoted price if it’s paid for in cash. This is due to the all around costs businesses incur when we use credit and debit. This year my husband asked our plumber for a cash discount when he was installing a new pipe from the master bath. Guess what? He took $100 off the labor cost. Gas stations are notorious for offering one cash price and one credit price. Go ahead and ask. The worst that can happen is they say no. Most likely about half will be thrilled to deal in cash and are happy to take some of the cost off in the process.
#4. Don’t always buy new: The best value in automobiles is to buy them 1 year used. But with the popularity of social media sales sites now a days, even smaller purchases can be bought at half their retail price, just under new, and be just as perfect for your needs. In search of a new stroller? Try the facebook parenting boards first to see if anyone is getting rid of one. Parents are always posting pictures of toys, clothes, and even large toy items that they are looking to sell. Take a quick look prior to ordering the item on Amazon Prime and there could be some pleasant surprises.
#5. Plan meals according to deals:This does not necessarily mean what is on sale at the grocery store. This is also applicable to restaurants. Plenty of restaurants offer deals during the week where kids eat free, appetizers are half price, buy one get one free deals, family style take-out deals, and a whole host of other options. The key is to know who offers the deals when and to keep a list. If burritos are half price on Mondays then Monday is a good night for Mexican. If kids eat free on Thursdays then Thursday is a good night to go out as a family. Once the deals are in memory, paying full price to eat out will feel odd!
As with anything new, these tips may take some time to get used to. Pick one and go slow. By the end of the year they will feel like part of the old routine…with some extra savings of course!
Jamie is the principal owner of Flesher Financial Services LLC, a family budgeting and investment analytics practice. She has over 15 years of experience helping families plan for the here and now, the future, and the next generation. Ms. Flesher holds a BA in Economics from the University of Maryland and an MBA in Finance and Business Economics from Fordham University. She has held positions at some of Wall Street’s top firms and was most recently serving as Senior Strategist at an independent Financial Planning practice when she left to focus on her family and the financial issues that affect young families today. As part of her role at Flesher Financial Services, Jamie writes a monthly financial advice column on one of lower New York’s most read blogs, Rocklandnymom.com. It is from this blog that she has been dubbed the “Money Momma”!