After Christmas shopping and Christmas travel, you may feel stressed when you look at your bank account. It’s normal. Most New Year’s resolutions are about money and health. Before you panic, get proactive and make a plan to save money in 2017.

Saving money can be about big decisions, like when you decided not to purchase that vanity motorcycle. More often, saving money is a series of small decisions on a daily basis which add up to big savings over the course of the year.

So while you’re extremely motivated, here are five ways to save money in 2016.

Brown bag it.

If you spend $8 a day on lunch at work or university, it adds up to about $200 a month. It’s cheaper and often healthier to make your own food.

Eat/drink in.

A meal cooked at home can be $5 per person. A take out meal out can run an average of $10-15 a head, and for $15 you’re not having a dining experience. Save the money. If you’re passionate about dining out, use some of your accrued savings on a truly special meal.

The same principle goes for a pint of beer in your living room versus a pint at a bar. A pint at home is around half the price of drinking out. Have your friends come over.

When you have to shop, buy used.

It feels pretty cool to have the latest smartphone but you don’t really need the newest model. In fact, most of us haven’t mastered the capabilities of the previous model by the time developers come out with a new phone. Check the classifieds for used or refurbished smartphones. Use a smartphone price checker to make sure you’re getting a fair deal. Note that you can apply the same principle to computers, textbooks, furniture, bikes, and cars.

Embrace minimalism. Buy less.

There are many solid reasons to buy less. Examine your impulse purchase urge carefully, and ask yourself how long you’ll use the item before it ends up in a landfill. Besides budgeting and the environment, there’s the mental calm that comes from knowing exactly what you own, owning what you need, and having an uncluttered space.

Use an app.

It’s never been easier to keep track of your personal finances, thanks to a host of clever, easy-to-use apps. In addition to tracking your personal finances — knowledge is power — they provide suggestions for how to save.

Bulk shop once a week for a set amount. Use a grocery list.

If you can avoid multiple trips to the grocery store, you will spend less on groceries. With one trip sticking to a careful list, you can control your grocery budget and avoid unnecessary items. Take advantage of deals at produce-only shops and bulk shopping stores like Costco.

Automate savings.

Commit once by setting an automated deposit from your earnings into your savings, and don’t worry about it again. Make sure your savings account has a decent interest rate (at least higher than inflation) while you’re at it. See if you can switch to a higher-yield savings account if it doesn’t.

Last modified: January 3, 2017

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