Most New Year’s resolutions are pretty dull. Lose weight, exercise more, eat less, yadda yadda. Same with financial resolutions. Google it and see what comes up: create a budget, save more, spend less, work harder. Good advice all, but dull. With my 2021 Resolutions, I will try to be a little more interesting. Let’s see if I succeed.
One of the selling points of Bitcoin is that you can use it to pay for stuff anonymously, leaving no digital footprint. Guess what else accomplishes the same objective? Good old cash! Don’t want anyone to know what you bought or how much you spent on it? Pay cash. Don’t like it when you get your credit card bill at the end of the month? Pay cash, and the stuff you bought won’t show up on your bill. I feel like I pay twice when I use the credit card – once when I buy the item, and again when I pay the credit card bill. Instead, just use cash and pay once. Go to the ATM once a week, withdraw as much cash as you need for the week, and when you have spent it all, that’s it until you go back to the ATM the next week. If you want to save for something big, stick a $20 in an envelope and put it in a drawer in your home. Do the same thing for 5 weeks and you have $100 you can use to treat yourself or your family. Buy your gasoline at an ARCO or another gas station that has a discount price for paying cash. It is becoming harder and harder to pay cash, especially with Amazon and electronic shopping, but that may make it more appealing. When you pay cash, you feel a little bit like you are getting away with something, and that is a good feeling that could prompt a wry smile.
Drink Cheap Liquor
My friend gave me a vodka drink with Sam’s Club store brand vodka, and it was really good. Same thing with Kirkwood-brand vodka from Costco, which rumor has it is actually Grey Goose in a different bottle. Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joes is pretty bad (imo), but some jug and box wines are actually pretty good. Try out some store brand liquor or wine and see what you think. Same thing with soda pop or seltzer water – try the much cheaper store brands. I’ve never been big on off-brand beer, but if you shop the specials at the store, you can shave several bucks off of the cost and enjoy the adventure if you aren’t too picky. All of you collectors of expensive wine have a nice hobby but not one that is good from a financial standpoint. You may tell yourself that it is, but it’s not if you are consuming a lot of high-end wine.
Figure Out A Way To Save On Phone, Internet, and Cable
Everyone has different options for phone, internet, and cable based mostly on where they live. Choose the option that best suits you and how you use these services. Make sure you get value for what you spend. For instance, many people have ditched their land line and have opted instead for an internet-based phone or just a cell phone. That doesn’t work well for our family because, for whatever reason, cell service in our house is spotty, and I am not a fan of the call quality of internet phones. So I still have a traditional land line with AT&T, but I called and downgraded the service and our bill is now only about 60% of what it was before. Those of you who are heavy internet users probably need a good, fast internet service, so you might use that as the starting point for what you pay for. Is your internet service reliable enough to stream you TV through it without degrading your ability to use the net? Then you might dump your cable TV service and go with a streaming TV service. All of the cable TV/internet providers have bundle services, and some of those bundles now include cell phone services. If you now have a stand-alone cell service, maybe you can save buy bundling up. Before you do, though, ask your neighbors if they have a different cell phone network provider than you do, and, if so, how well it works at home. Your objective should be to have quality service at a good price and not double-pay for some services. Take advantage of bundles if it makes sense with minimal sacrifice. This should be an annual exercise for you as the quality of some services change and technologies advance. For instance, as 5G service advances over the next few years, you may be able to ditch your expensive cable internet service entirely, which could realign a number of your spending priorities.
The TV pundits say we are a divided nation, but I think we are pretty united in our unhappiness with the current state of politics in the US. Unhappy perhaps for different reasons, but unhappy nonetheless. If watching the news on TV makes you unhappy, then don’t watch it. If your whole mood or attitude is based upon the political party in charge or what is happening in Washington DC or your state capitol, then you are setting yourself up for a life of anxiety and disappointment.
I don’t do yoga, but I like it, and I might take it up once the pandemic is over. Yoga is good for you physically and spiritually and hopefully puts you in a good state of mind. Unlike politics and watching the news. If not yoga, then some other physical activity such as just taking a walk or meditating or staring into space. Do some activity that puts you in a good state of mind and don’t let negative thoughts or activities ruin your life.
Buy Stocks Instead of Bonds
I say this because bond yields are so low, especially for US Treasury bonds and bank CDs. Stocks always outperform in the long run, and you can stay safe if you diversify your stock portfolio substantially. Instead of allocating to bonds, put like 1-2 years of your annual spending in a money market account in your bank, and invest the remainder in total market funds or ETFs.
Happy New Year and stick with your resolutions!