Written by Spotloan

Whether the idea of 2021 financial New Year’s resolutions excites or terrifies you, they’re a great way to keep your financial goals at the front of your mind. And they don’t have to be huge and overwhelming. In fact, making some of your resolutions easier to achieve can help you gain momentum and stay on track to reach your bigger goals. 

Putting together a list of resolutions that are all far out of reach can leave you feeling defeated early in the year. Instead, take a look at some of our suggestions and build your own list from there. Whether you’re aiming to build your emergency fund, increase your retirement savings, plan a wedding on a budget, or achieve another important financial goal, we’ve got some ideas to help you get started.

Financial New Year's Resolutions for 2021

1. Adjust Your Budget for 2021

2020 was a unique and interesting year. If you’ve worked for the same company for the last few years, you may not have revisited your budget much in that timeframe. Maybe your income and bills have stayed the same. More likely, there have been some changes. These changes may have been large and impossible to ignore, like a job loss. 

But they may also have been subtle changes, like an extra takeout order or two per week or a gym membership that you canceled earlier in the year when things closed down. In any given year, reworking your budget is an excellent financial New Year’s resolution. This year, it’s especially important. Use the 50/20/30 budgeting system to divide your income between needs, wants, and investments. If your wants are taking up too much of your income, find ways to make cuts. Things like unused subscriptions and outings should be the first to go. 

2. Save on Your 2021 Food Budget

Food is something that we can’t cut from our budgets, but most of us don’t have to spend nearly as much as we do on it. Whether your overage comes from eating out or grocery shopping while hungry, there are a few handy tips that personal finance experts suggest for saving in this massive budget category. Before you go to the grocery store, eat a snack and make a list to keep your grocery budget in check. Having a list and a satisfied stomach will help you stay on track and on budget. Meal planning is another great way to save on food. 

Dig through the items you already have in your refrigerator, freezer, and cabinets, and plan out as many meals as you can. There may be more in there than you’d think, and shopping in your kitchen first can help you avoid unnecessary purchases. If eating out or ordering takeout is the bigger problem, try cutting down on the frequency. Total deprivation rarely works as a long-term strategy, but if you order takeout eight times per month, try cutting that number in half. Consider sharing an entree with someone else or choosing an appetizer instead of an entree if that’s not an option.

3. Negotiate and Lower Your Bills in 2021

Most of us have our bills automated at this point, so we don’t put too much thought into them. Another month means another auto insurance bill and cell phone charge automatically pulled from your checking account. But did you know that you can negotiate bills like these ones? That’s right. You can negotiate your auto insurance rate, cell phone bill, gym membership, cable and internet, and more. 

All it takes is a quick phone call and a friendly request. If you’re working from home or driving fewer miles than you were when you started your auto policy, call your auto insurance provider first. See if they’ll give you a reduced mileage discount. Move on to your cell phone and internet providers next. You may get a no, but it’s more often a yes.    

Be sure to check the Spotloan Financial Education page again throughout January. We’ll be sharing many articles designed to help you save money on car insurance, find budget-friendly alternatives to cable and internet, save money on your cell phone, and more.

4. Make Extra Money and Save with a Side Hustle in 2021

If you’ve already trimmed your costs and cut out extras like subscriptions, manicures, expensive dinners, and online shopping, there may be little room left for getting your 2021 expenses down. But the limit for bringing in additional income does not exist. Last year, part and full-time freelancers represented about 35% of the total workforce. When we look back on 2020, we anticipate this percentage being even higher. 

Millions of individuals this year have used side hustles to close the income gap that was caused by the pandemic. Millions of individuals in previous years have used side hustles to boost or replace their income, fund their emergency savings, and pad their retirement accounts. Whether you’re looking for full-time work or a little extra income on the side, there are plenty of options out there to choose from. You can work as a resume writer or editor, drive for Uber, deliver groceries for Instacart, or get creative and sell handmade items on Etsy, among countless other options.