Did you get carried away with the holiday spirit this past season? On the heels of hefty spending, the New Year is the best time to take stock of personal finance habits and make beneficial changes for the year ahead.
Here are four useful tips and tricks to spend and save wisely in 2017.
1. Think Long Term
Don't neglect the future. It's never too early to start saving for retirement. In fact, the sooner you start, the better off you will be. Invest through a company-sponsored plan if possible. If not, look into traditional and Roth-IRAs that can help you grow your wealth exponentially in a secure and stable way and with added tax benefits.
2. Create Categorized Funds
Consider the 52-week savings challenge. In the first week, save $1, followed by $2 the second week, all the way through week 52, when you put aside $52. Sticking to this plan results in $1,378 saved at the end of the year, as well as any interest you've earned.
Creating a savings account for a specific purpose is a perennially sound savings strategy. Look for banks that are fee friendly, which allows you to open an Online Savings or Money Market account with no minimum and no monthly maintenance fee. For example, Ally Bank, Member FDIC, offers no minimum fee and offers convenient ways to deposit money easily through e-check deposit or direct deposit, allowing you to earn interest compounded daily on your savings. In addition, putting this money in a separate account allows you to track your spending against the account balance.
3. Use Shopping Apps
It is incredibly easy to save money with a little online research. Within just a few minutes of research, you'll find discount codes, loyalty programs or cashback websites that track your purchases and reward you for the extra step of navigating through their shopping portal instead of going straight to the big name retailers' websites.
4. Reap Rewards
When considering a credit card, it's important to look at the reward programs offered by each bank to ensure that you're choosing a card that rewards you for the things that you buy the most. While no personal finance expert would advocate running up credit card bills one can't afford, savvy consumers know how to take advantage of credit card reward programs for hotel points, airline miles or just straight cash in their pockets.
There are often offers for opening a new credit card with a minimum spend. The Ally CashBack Credit Card for instance, provides a $100 bonus when you make $500 in eligible purchases during the first three billing cycles, and offers two percent cash back at gas stations and grocery stores, and one percent cash back on all other purchases -- as well as 10 percent bonus on rewards that are deposited into an eligible Ally Bank account.
If you don't want to open a new account, check your current credit cards for promotions or cash back offers, which can add up quickly on everyday purchases.
With a little homework, savvy consumers can make 2017 the year they spend strategically and save more.