While it seems as though January 1 always comes with big ideas about changes we’d like to make, let me remind you that there is nothing magical about January first. You can easily take action today!

When the new year rolled around, I set some pretty big savings goals for the year. By the end of the year, we’d like to be debt free, have an emergency savings account in place and be on our way to saving for down payment for our home. Every month, we’re setting some pretty aggressive goals because we know that our hard work will be worth it.

5 Things We’re Doing in 2016 To Hit Our Financial Goals

Get our food spending under control.

I plan to meal plan based on what is on sale at the grocery store. And, I’m making sure to keep the ingredients to 3 quick and easy dinners on hand at all times. This will reduce our temptation to grab take out when we’re in a time pinch. Instead, we’ll budget for a monthly dinner out together as a family.

I also plan to freeze a few meals and use our slow cooker more often. Then, I really won’t have an excuse.

Explore ways to save on energy.

With Direct Energy customers in Massachusetts save up to 30%* over National Grid MA’s electricity rate, and up to 8%* over Eversource’s electricity rate. They also provide great rates for those living in the Pennsylvania, Ohio, Connecticut, and Massachusetts areas.

In addition to those great savings many other utility companies have great ways to save. If we prepay an oil delivery for our heat, we can save 10% off of their current price and our cable company offers a referral incentive.

Use the library more.

Our library has so much more to offer than just books. They’ve got DVD’s, children’s programming, discounts to museums, and awesome lecture series. All of this is available to us with our library card. If I become more diligent about using my library, I know we’ll save a ton of money this year!

Bring water and snacks with us.

It seems as though my kids are always starving, and when we get into the car they’re always hungry! I find myself frequently stopping to grab a bottle of water and a few granola bars. This year, I’m going to remember to grab a few things from home, that way I won’t have to buy anything when we’re out. Snack stops usually run me about $5.00. If I can prevent one of those a week, I’ll easily save $260.00 a year.

Get savvy when it comes to saving money on kid’s gear.

We live in an area that is rich with online Facebook tag sale groups, thrift stores and consignment shops. While I try to hit them up on a regular basis, I know I could save even more money if I paid attention to when their special sales events were happening. Two weeks ago, I happened upon a 60% off sale at a local children’s consignment shop. Even though spring is still several weeks away, they’re getting the store ready for shorts and swim suits. All of their winter gear, sweat shirts, long sleeve shirts and jeans were on sale. I bought a few things, but if I was thinking about it, I would have bought ahead in the next size for the fall too.

I’m going to be honest, we’re not going to hit our January goal because had to make unexpected (and not budgeted for) car repairs this month. However, we’re not going to let that weigh us down. Instead, we’re overcoming our budgeting setbacks.

5 Tips For Overcoming Budgeting Setbacks

How to recover after you have a budget setback. Dealing with financial emergencies can be rough, here are some great ways to get back on track!

  1. Don’t let it snowball. If you have a budget setback, don’t let that setback spur on further setbacks. Instead, regroup, refocus, and move forward.
  2. Don’t let it discourage you. A setback is a setback. It literally sets you back. But instead of focusing on the negative of not meeting your savings goal, keep a positive outlook.
  3. Own it. You’ve got a budget setback but how you move through it is what is going to determine what your overall outcome is.
  4. Brainstorm new ways to replace the lost income. For our case, I have decided that I’ll need to take on additional work as a virtual assistant if we are going to make up the money lost from our setback.
  5. Keep your eyes focused on your goals. Nothing is the same forever, you can do it!

*All savings refers to the current difference between Direct Energy’s fixed rate offer and the Utility’s current Fixed Rate for Basic Service as of January 8, 2016, and does not include any other component of the electricity bill. Utility rates are subject to change and there may be no savings following the respective official utility rate change date. Direct Energy’s fixed rates includety supply charges only and excludes delivery/transmission charges, taxes, and all other utility-related charges. Offer is limited and valid for new residential customers only.