Millions of Americans plan to put their finances first in 2013, and have vowed to start budgeting, pay off debt, build their traditional or emergency savings or accomplish a long-standing financial goal. While money-related resolutions are common and often a good idea for households, it’s important that consumers take present economic conditions into account when formulating a plan.
Last year was a difficult one for many families whose financial results were beaten down by rising gas prices, inflation and low savings rates. Unfortunately, it appears that some of the economic problems that plagued households last year may be ever present in 2013 as well, according to USA Today. For example, the news source noted that higher prices are expected to prevail in several spending categories, ranging from groceries and rent to college tuition and flights. While rising prices are typically not as problematic if wages rise at the same time, take-home pay is expected to either decrease or remain flat next year.
Chayenne Paullin, a resident of Iowa, told USA Today that her family budget has already experienced problems and rising prices will only make it more difficult to get on a sound financial course.
“We can’t afford for anything else to go up, but I can’t think of anything that’s not going up – from water to car insurance,” said Paullin. “The price of gasoline is really insane. Instead of costing us $25 a week to fill up each of our two cars, it’s costing us $40, and that takes away money that we would otherwise spend on household items like groceries.”
Seeking out ways to lower these expenditures
It’s helpful for families to first look at their budgets and determine where they are overspending. For example, going grocery shopping sans coupons and list can generally result in households spending more money than necessary. It may also be a good idea for individuals to assess how much they are paying for utilities, cellphone packages and insurance. While leaving a service they have been loyal to for years might seem difficult, switching to new providers may help families save a great deal of money each month.
Another often overlooked area of savings relates to loan and credit interest rates. Many credit card lenders may be willing to negotiate a lower rate for borrowers, and some mortgage and student loan lenders will also reduce rates for those who enroll in automatic debiting. In addition, families who bundle their home and auto insurance packages typically see reduced rates. Through these small changes, consumers may put themselves in a better position to stick to savings goals and ride out higher costs.