I'm so excited about my money-saving New Year’s resolutions that I've started several of them already! Every January I list all the areas of my life I want to improve on, like health and fitness goals, money-saving targets and character-building resolutions. Then, every December I take inventory of how sticking to these resolutions (or not sticking to them) has changed my life. Often, I realize my resolutions faded through the months, and December’s inventory is a little bare. To change things up this year I’m focusing on money-saving resolutions that are not only easier to stick with than my workout goals, but SMART as well! A few months ago I learned how to set SMART goals, and I’ve used that same system to create my SMART resolutions. Here’s how I’m being SMART about saving money in the new year:


Whenever I’m out to lunch with friends, I skip the soda or dessert—not only to save calories and work on my health goal, but also to stick that “saved cash” into my savings account. My husband and I take the kids bowling or roller skating once a month. I sit out for two of the four games we bowl, and I skip skating altogether to hide behind the camera lens (the kids don’t mind that I skip these activities because they know I'm saving so we can go to Lego Land!). Over $80 a year goes into my savings just from skipping the monthly activity alone!


For each of the 52 weeks in the year I save a dollar amount corresponding to the week number. I'm counting down the year, beginning with week 52 and adding $52 into my savings account this first week. Week 27 = $27. By the last week of the year when I add in that last $1, I will have saved $1378. On the birthday weeks for each of my family members I will also add in an extra $50, just for some added money-saving fun! (Check out this article on 52-Week savings plans to see some different ideas on how to multiply the savings!)


Many banks offer a free savings account where you can have money automatically transferred from your checking whenever you make a purchase. One of my banks auto transfers $1 for every debit card purchase. My other bank automatically rounds up every purchase to the nearest whole dollar and puts the change into an account separate from my savings account (bonus! I use this account to buy gifts for friends' birthdays throughout the year!). I also have once-a-month auto transfers that I set up for each of my children. These transfer on their birth date 'day' every month into their own savings accounts, in amounts double their ages.


Since I’m saving money to do something enjoyable with my family, I am going to reward myself by adding money to my savings every time I work on one of my non-monetary resolutions. Working out three one-hour sessions a week=$3/session. Weekly family game night=$5. Handwritten letters of gratitude written weekly to my husband=$1. If I’m consistent with these three resolutions and reward myself as planned, I will have $780 saved by the end of the year!


I buy at least two coffees a week and always tip at least $1/coffee. Matching my tips and adding them to my savings will save at least $96 a year, and a whole lot more if I skip a coffee or two a month and add that cash to my savings!

My SMART money-saving New Year Resolutions will help me save $2584 in 2014! How much can yours help you save?

How to Be S.M.A.R.T About Saving Money in the New Year