ST. LOUIS -- Here are my 2013 financial New Year's resolutions. This is a check list that some of you might find useful and it builds upon the resolutions I made last year that I was able to keep.
If you have any money-saving suggestions you want to pass along, I'd love to hear them. I wish you an amazing year ahead and I'm honored to be spending some of it together.
If you're visiting this list from our iPad app, please access this article directly through Safari so the links load correctly for you.
1) Shop smart
Avoid impulse purchases and always check at least three stores to make sure you've got the best price. Of course, look for coupons and sales too. When you're shopping online, make sure you get a free shipping deal. Never, ever pay full price. Try to buy everything on clearance. Also, don't buy when the stores want you to buy. When those shorts and t-shirts show up in store displays this May, hold off until July to get the biggest deals.
Site to help: The Find (www.thefind.com) is a great comparison shopping site.
2) Always be armed with a coupon
I don't remember the last time I bought something without a coupon. Even if it's just snagging free shipping for an item online to save you a trip to the store (and using more of that precious gas in your fuel tank), coupons and coupon codes are easy.
3) Keep to a budget
Figure out what you spend on all your regular items in a month, try to buy them in as few shopping visits as possible (better still, order them online with free delivery to cut down on your bills at the gas pump) and write down what you spend. You'll save time and spend less -- believe me.
Site to help: Mint.com
4) Kill your debt
This one's crucial. Start by getting rid of any debt you have. Once you pay down that debt, you won't have anything weighing you down next year. Also, always pay your bills on time to avoid paying late fees. To start getting your debt under control, look into a balance transfer credit card. These cards can help aggregate all your debts with a 0% interest rate and you have up to 21 months to repay.
Site to help: Offers balance transfer
5) Think differently
It's 2013. Don't make the same mistakes you did in 2012. Start thinking outside the box: If everyone in your family has a cell phone, is there really any need to pay for your land line? How much cable TV do you really watch? Perhaps a cheaper alternative, like the services from Netflix or Hulu, would serve your purposes just as well. These, of course, are just examples and they might not work for everyone. The point is, don't stick with what you've always done without good reason. Try getting creative and finding new places in your budget to save money.
Site to help: Roku
6) Never eat at a restaurant paying full price
There's still a great way to support our phenomenal local restaurants while still cutting our wallet a break. Restaurant.com is the way to go and signing up for their newsletter gets you constant additional discount codes so at least every month, you can buy $25 restaurant.com gift certificates for $2.
7) Entertainment books are a must
I keep one in my glove compartment. From great local deals to coffee in the morning, free car washes and incredible two-for-one specials on everything from rental cars to cupcakes, entertainment books save me mad cash every step of the way. This coupon to help will save you $10 with free shipping.
Site to help: http://www.offers.com/entertainmentbook/discount/offer/
8) Loyalty doesn't always pay off
I really hate to say it, but switching companies often allows you to nab the best promotional rates. Think about it: When you sign up for service with Time Warner, you get an amazing package with great prices. A year later, that package can almost double in price. By switching from Time Warner Cable to Verizon, I saved a lot of money. When the time comes to switch, I'll likely find a better promotion somewhere else. Since many companies waive activation and setup fees, it actually pays to search around or to at least threaten a switch in the event a company will extend a promotion to keep your business.
9) Preventative spending
Sometimes spending money now can save you big bucks in the future. Things like regular doctor and dentist visits, home upgrades and taking your car in for its regular service can be pricey, but the money you'll save by avoiding larger problems justifies all those expenses. Even things that may seem frivolous can have big benefits: How about investing in that new set of duds for that special presentation in front of management? You may spend a few dollars today, but think long-term savings and this one makes sense.
10) Track your favorite companies on social media
It takes a few seconds to setup an account and whether you like a favorite company on Facebook or follow a great new shop on Twitter, promo codes are often sent out to the exclusive group of folks that give retailers the time of today.
11) Cut down on daily email SPAM
Subscribing to every possible company's daily deal email not only clutters your inbox, but you may find yourself presented with enticing offers on items you don't need. It's the Groupon Effect and if you find yourself buying gift certificates for more pedicure/massage offers you aren't redeeming, it may be time to unsubscribe.
12) Never buy something that's not on sale
It's the one New Year's resolution I actually keep every year and it is possible. From clothing to groceries, if you don't see a discount or reduction, don't buy it. Also, if you're not sure whether an item will drop, there are great websites to help you decide whether it's the right time to buy.
13) Don't assume. Ask!
Many hard-working people settle because they can't get their deal questions answered. Whether you couldn't track down that sales associate or you don't have the time, ask me your deal questions and either myself or one of the Ways 2 Save Deal Confidants I rely on daily will get your questions answered. CLICK HERE