It's time to start formulating your resolutions for 2017, and wouldn't it be awesome if this year's list included ways to save money? Most sites will tell you to quit smoking or stop buying Starbucks every day, and while those suggestions are valid, we know you've heard that all before.
So instead, here are seven (hopefully) fresh New Year's resolutions for you to consider, all of which will save you some moolah in 2017.
Borrow From Friends Instead of Buying
Pulling the trigger on a purchase has never been easier with the ubiquity of smartphones. But this year, resolve to think through new purchases before clicking "buy." Borrowing might seem like a relic of the past, but it's coming back into vogue with the rise of the sharing economy.
So before you make any purchase this year, first consider whether this is an item you'll use regularly, or if it will have fairly limited use. If it's the latter, you might be able to borrow from a friend, family member, or neighbor and avoid the expense. For instance, instead of buying a set of tools you will rarely use, consider borrowing instead. Then you can return the favor by lending a fancy dress for a special occasion or your leaf blower on a Saturday in November. Borrowing instead of buying saves money and avoids needless clutter.
Sell Excess Items on Craigslist
Speaking of clutter, go through your home and find things you either haven't used in awhile or you may have never even opened. There might even be gifts you received that you are already willing to part with. Make some extra cash by selling those items on Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook yard sale sites. You never know how many hundreds or thousands of dollars you have collecting dust in your house.
Increase Your Retirement Savings
This will have the biggest payoff of any resolution you make. No matter your age or current contribution amount, increase the amount you are saving by 1% at the beginning of the new year, and then by another 1% midway through 2017.
The easiest way to do this is to bump that percentage up in your 401(k). If you don't have access to a 401(k), consider opening a Roth IRA. You'll feel the effects less if you coincide your savings bumps with the times when you get a raise. You can even calculate how much that small bump will affect your future retirement nest egg.
Shop Your Insurance
You've heard the commercials: Blah blah minutes could save you blah blah percent or more on your car insurance. Well, it's true. Every insurance company has different parameters that they use to set insurance rates. And you could easily be paying too much for car, home, or renters insurance.
Ask about all the discounts you could possibly receive. You might get a discount based on what college you went to or for taking an online safe driving course. Those sorts of discounts could save you hundreds over just a few years. Shop three to five companies that are rated highly by Consumer Reports and/or J.D. Power.
Cut Your Monthly Bills
Your monthly bills take more of a toll on your budget than you think. And we often fail to shop around for a better option when it comes to those bills. Maybe you had an initial discount on your home internet plan, but that's gone away. Call your provider and see if it'll match the rates it's currently offering to new customers. If it won't, consider switching to a competitor. And if you're paying a monthly fee for banking, then switch now! There are great online banks that offer no-cost savings and checking accounts.
Or maybe you're used to paying $70 or more a month for your cell phone. You could likely cut that bill in half by shopping around, too. If you feel uncomfortable navigating the bill-cutting waters alone, you could try using a service like BillCutterz. It'll do the work for you, and you split the savings.
Learn How to Cook
Eating out is a major monthly expense for many — especially millennials. Cutting down on how much you eat out could reap you huge financial savings every month.
So consider taking cooking classes or just putting a few recipes to the test that you've found online. Crock-Pot meals and brown-bag lunches are easy ways to start. If you want to save mad money, a website like eMeals could really prevent meal-planning stress. And free cookbooks can show you how to eat well on just a few dollars a day. You don't have to forgo eating out altogether. Eating out less actually makes it seem like more of a treat!
Cancel Your Gym Membership
While everyone else around you is signing a contract for a gym membership, go against the grain and ditch yours. Statistics show that somewhere between 60% and 70% of people with a gym membership never use it. And most gyms have incredibly stern contracts that force you to keep paying, whether you use your membership or not.
Instead, consider a free fitness regimen. Walk or jog around your neighborhood. Do push-ups when you wake up in the morning. Or bike to work if that's a legitimate possibility. Just don't pay a high monthly fee for something that might go altogether unused.
Readers, what are your New Year's resolutions for the coming year? Will any of them help save you money? Let us know in the comments below!