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Money Matters: 4 tips to strengthen your finances and establish financial goals for 2023 | News, Sports, Jobs

Inflation remains a rising concern in Utah as well as across the nation. In fact, according to the just-released Economic Report to the Governor, inflation was the most salient economic issue in the Beehive State in 2022. 

Noting the frequency with which the topic came up in conversations from the dinner table to fodder for comedians and ubiquitous pop culture references, the report stated that inflation seems highly personal for Utah families struggling to cope with the added cost of groceries.

With inflation diminishing buying power across the country, a recent Bank of America survey found that 80% of Americans were intent on setting financial resolutions for 2023. However, 77% of respondents still expect inflation to impact their ability to achieve their savings-oriented goals this year.

There are tips, however, that can help Utahns start the new year with a strong budget strategy and clear financial goals. Here are four methods that might be right for you as you look to stretch your dollars to make more sense in 2023.

New year, new budget

One of the most straightforward ways to evaluate your budget is to compare monthly expenses against your take-home pay and look for areas where you can cut back or start saving. 

Bank of America’s survey found that consumers envision modifying their spending habits this year in the following ways:

  • 58% say they will cut back on eating out or ordering takeout.
  • 46% plan to buy less apparel or consumer goods.
  • 37% hope to spend less on groceries.
  • 36% plan to drive less.
  • 28% say they will spend less on concerts, events and entertainment activities.
  • 27% intend to reduce vacation plans.

Some additional ways to trim budget expenses include dropping cable TV and switching to streaming services or using a digital antenna, cutting magazine subscriptions or reevaluating your gym membership. 

Regularly tending to your budget, especially as your priorities change, can help address financial anxiety and set you up for long-term financial success.

Consider a no-spend strategy

Adopting a no-spend strategy may sound extreme, but data shows that 45% of people plan to utilize this method in 2023. A no-spend budget consists of cutting all nonessential expenditures for a set period of time, like a week or a month, helping you save money and getting your financial goals back on track. Think of it as a hard reset following a tendency to overspend during the holidays. 

You set the boundaries of your own no-spending spree. Decide in advance what you will and won’t spend money on during the challenge. You may opt to start small and then expand the parameters by commodity or length based on what you learn from your own abilities to maintain a spending moratorium.

For Utahns, this might mean eliminating the family’s annual winter escape to southern Utah, avoiding soda chain establishments for a predetermined time, holding off on tickets to sporting events and concerts, temporarily eliminating green gelatin from your grocery list or not trying to see every Oscar-nominated film before the Academy Awards presentation on March 12.

No matter where you choose to save money in your budget, make a plan for where those additional savings will go. And stick to it. 

Utilize available savings tools

Take advantage of automatic savings tools. Forty-four percent of Americans cite saving money as a financial goal for 2023. By setting up automatic transfers from your checking to savings, you can save without having to think about it.

Start small by automatically transferring a few dollars each week or diverting a portion of each paycheck directly to savings. For even more mindless saving, consider using a tool like Bank of America’s Keep the Change® program, which will round up every Bank of America debit card purchase to the nearest dollar and transfer the change to your savings account. It’s like keeping a coin jar at home for all your loose change, only better. It’s amazing how much extra money you can save in the course of the year without even having to think about it.

Find a money buddy

Even though everyone’s financial wellness journey is unique, you don’t have to venture alone. Communicating openly about your financial goals with someone you trust can help keep you accountable.

Whether you and a coworker agree to pack a lunch rather than eat out or you and a friend commit to Friday night activities under a certain dollar amount, it’s easier to stay motivated when you have a partner cheering you on.

As you stride into the new year, keep a tighter grip on your wallet with the help of these tips. Set a budget, consider a no-spend policy, take advantage of savings tools and find a money buddy. Doing so will get you on the right path sooner rather than later.

Kate Moss is senior vice president, market executive, of Bank of America Utah.


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