This is a guest post by Nancy Evans, a freelance writer who enjoys living well on a minimal budget.
It may seem as if summer has just ended, but a single look out the window is proof enough that fall is in full swing. Winter is right around the corner, which means we're heading into a new year in the very near future. Many people come up with a host of resolutions in order to guide their behavior once January 1st rolls around, but sticking to these changes can be easier said than done - especially when it comes to finances.
The thing is, you can use the onset of the new year as a motivator for making changes to better your financial situation. Whether you stick to these principles or not is up to you, but it's certainly worth a shot.
Reevaluate Your Savings Plan
It's not uncommon these days for people to neglect setting up a savings plan. Many Americans simply live paycheck to paycheck, relying on nothing other than their checking account and maybe a credit card to handle daily transactions. Building a proper savings is of the utmost importance, as it will allow you to rest easy in times when you might need that extra boost. Whether you open Roth IRA online, work with your bank on a CD or simply set-up a basic savings account, you'll be doing yourself a huge favor in the long run.
Buy Used Clothing
There's absolutely no shame in shopping for used clothing. Find the right vintage shop, and you can often stumble upon designer pieces that are worth hundreds of dollars for a fraction of their original price. Add to this the fact that many items found in these types of stores are discontinued and can no longer be purchased in retail stores, and it makes perfect sense why so many people are attracted to buying used clothing.
As a consumer, you've got to take the time to ensure that the shops you patronize are picky with their inventory and are only bringing in top-quality pieces. It can take a while to find the right vintage shop, but once you do you, you'll never turn back.
Be Careful With How Much You Treat Yourself
Everyone needs to treat themselves from time to time - it's what keeps us sane. When "every once in a while" becomes every day, problems start to arise. That daily latte, for example could be cutting into your paycheck as much as $40-50 per week! Nobody ever likes to hear it, but keeping luxuries to a minimum is simply the best way to avoid overspending. You don't have to starve yourself of fun, but it can never hurt to analyze your spending habits and consider ways in which you might be able to cut down on excessive purchases. Think of it as a game, or at least a challenge worth taking on.
2014 will be here before you know it, and the sooner you can start putting these ideas into practice, the more likely it is that you'll be able to stay atop your finances next year.
See my disclaimer.