Chelsea Krost

Are you serious about putting away cash this year? Break bad spending habits by making a game plan and sticking to it. Follow the 50/30/20 rule to budget your monthly spending. Treat your savings account goals like any other bill. Better yet, automate it. Do away with frivolous spending, start saving small amounts and avoid accumulating debt like the plague.

Budget like a Boss

The 50/30/20 rule breaks down your spending into three categories. Being continually broke is a choice. Separate your costs into living expenses, ‘flexible costs,’ and long-term savings. 50 percent of your income should go towards livings expenses.

Dedicate 30 percent to flexible costs, including vacations, entertainment, and gifts to yourself. You have to treat yourself! 20 percent may not seem like a lot if your goal is to be an extreme saver, but you need to be sure you can stay on top of your bills. Going into debt is kryptonite for savings goals.

Don’t Do Debt

Debt can put the breaks on savings goals. When you’re in debt, you need to take care of it as soon as possible. The longer you ignore it, the deeper the hole gets. If you’re in debt right now, make a plan to pay it off. Paying off your credit card debt is one of the best long-term savings decisions you can make.

Taking care of existing debt now, rather than at the end of the year, “effectively makes an investment that returns 15 to 20 percent per year,” according to Kevin Gallegos, Vice President of Phoenix operations for Freedom Financial Network.

Spend with Your Head, Not Your Heart

It can be tempting to go out for dinner a few extra times a month when you’re feeling stressed. Nothing cures a stressful week at the office like a new pair of shoes or a weekend getaway. Make a list of inexpensive or free ways to blow off steam.

When the stress builds, go for a run, watch a movie at home, or get out in nature for an afternoon. You don’t have to spoil yourself with luxuries to unwind. Stick to the 50/30/20 rule and stay out of debt. You’ll be a certified gold-star saver before the year’s up!