Savings money jar

Like any New Year’s Resolution, starting is always the hardest part.

Is 2019 the year to get out of debt, buy a house, plan that once in a lifetime trip or just build up your rainy-day fund? Most people know the importance of saving, but some may find it challenging to know where to start or how to create a savings plan to achieve these goals.

The new year is a perfect time to kick start a savings plan to help reach your financial goals. Folks typically find that by creating a savings plan early, it can help achieve other resolutions. For instance, dining out less can positively impact your wallet and your waistline, translating to both health and financial goals.

When creating a savings plan, it’s important to keep in mind the 50/20/30 rule, which suggests putting 50 percent of your income towards necessities, 20 percent toward paying off debt or for savings, and 30 percent for “fun money.”

In addition to appropriately allocating your income, there are several other tips and tricks to consider in reaching your 2019 savings goals:

Avoid peak season for big purchases. Try to time purchases during the off-season. This can mean buying a winter coat in April when it goes on sale, visiting Italy in November or maybe even starting your Christmas shopping in July.

Review automatic subscriptions and payments.  Look at your recurring or automatically enrolled payments and see if you can cut any streaming services, gym memberships or delivery plans.

Review the small purchases (that add up). Those daily latte purchases can add up to be over $1,100 a year. Consider cutting back on non-essential, expensive food or drink items. Instead, commit to making coffee at home or brown bagging your lunch.

Pay down high interest credit cards.  Whenever possible, pay more than your monthly minimum balance, focusing first on the cards with the highest interest. Once your payments are back on track, resist adding to that balance going forward. Some cards also offer balance transfers at lower interest rates, but be wary of fees.

Be economical when eating out. When you do go out to eat, try to limit the items you order to maybe just an entrée, and steer clear of buying multiple drinks or appetizers. Not only will you save money, but you’ll cut down on your caloric intake as well – a win-win!

Consider disputing your property assessment. Studies have found that county assessors can over-assess the value of your home, increasing the amount owed on taxes each year. If you think your home value wasn’t properly assessed, consider petitioning your town’s tax assessor for a revaluation.

Refinance your mortgage. Interest rates are still relatively low, so consider refinancing your mortgage before interest rates continue to rise even further. Just make sure to factor in any accompanying fees and expenses that could accumulate with a refinance transaction.

Like any New Year’s Resolution, starting is always the hardest part. But making simple changes, like the ones listed above, can help form long-lasting habits that ultimately lead to a balanced budget and achieving your broader goals.

For more money saving tips, visit efirstbankblog.com.

FirstBank, the nation’s third largest privately held bank, operates more than 115 locations in Arizona, Colorado and California, serving over 750,000 customers. FirstBank is also unique in that a majority of its stock is owned by management and employees. Information: efirstbank.com.

-Joel Johnson is the East Valley market president for FirstBank, which has an Ahwatukee location.

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