by Allie Cooper

Savings are a big concern when the holiday season closes in fast. Over a fifth of Americans say Christmas spending would leave them in debt. While it’s true that the holidays are an expensive time, saving is a year-round effort. The trick is a combination of long-term choices and habits. With that in mind, here are some tried-and-true ideas for improving the state of your finances.

1. Cutting back on online shopping

It really is too easy to buy stuff online nowadays. In fact, the value of holiday retail e-commerce increased by around $50 billion in the US between 2019 and 2020. Luckily, there are things you can do to rein it in. Little things can help reduce impulse buys, like taking shopping apps off your phone home screen and making yourself put in credit card details and shipping every time by deleting your saved card details. Simply waiting 24 hours before making a purchase is another method.

2. Consult a financial professional

Yes, it’s another cost in the short-term, but if you consider savings as a kind of long-term self-investment, why wouldn’t you talk to an expert? The good news is it’s easier than ever to find someone you can talk to about your personal finances. Similar to what has been observed in healthcare, the finance industry has started to shift online which means that consultants can schedule Zoom calls with you, and provide you with the guidance you need, in a quicker and more efficient manner than ever before.

3. Save by creating a strict budget

One classic piece of advice, but one worth pursuing even for a little while so you’re more attuned to where you can make savings is the 50/30/20 budget: 50% of your income for what you need, 30% for what you want and 20% for saving. There are all sorts of apps to help take the pain out of budgeting. Pen and paper still work, of course, as does an Excel spreadsheet. And you can always talk to the staff at Veritas FCU. We’re here to help. For some straightforward tips on budgeting and general finance advice, check out another blog post from last year on how to improve your finances.

4. Drop or reduce recurring expenses

This will come up if you’re budgeting, but you can do it any time. Don’t make yourself suffer: your morning coffees may add up, but maybe you don’t want to make it at home. The low-hanging fruit are usually the ones you don’t think about, like whether you need all those streaming services and a cable subscription. Check if you’re paying too much for your phone subscription, electricity, student loan, mortgage, or car insurance — very often there are better offers with another company or more consolidated payment plans with lower interest.

5. Pay more into your 401(k)

Upping your 401(k) contribution is not only a great way to save, it has the added benefit of getting out of paying more tax than you need to. Of course, there are maximum limits to what you can put in, but since actually doing it is often as simple as paying HR a visit, questions like that can be easily ironed out.