The start of a new year is an ideal time to set financial goals to get out of debt and plan for whatever surprises 2018 might bring. Sometimes, saving a significant amount of money can seem like an unattainable goal. However, by focusing on just a few tips each month, you can create a much more manageable plan, and by the end of the year, you might be surprised by how much progress has been made. Below is our 2018 savings calendar with month-by-month tips to help you save money.

January

Make a budget so you can see where your money should be going, and where it’s actually being spent. Also, review your receipts and you might be surprised at how much you’re spending at grocery stores and big-box stores.

Take advantage of after-Christmas sales to buy winter products, such as boots and coats, that are offered at steep discounts. Also, if you need new furniture, January is your best bet, since stores get new furniture in February and they’re trying to move old items out of the store.

February

If you struggle saving money, use an automatic option. You can set up recurring transfers from your checking to your savings account, for example, on the 3rd day of every month, or every other Tuesday.

Since February is Valentine’s day, consider alternatives to roses and other expensive gifts. Remember that it’s the thought that counts.

March

Reevaluate your cable, internet and phone services. Have the prices crept up over the past year? Consider shopping around for a more affordable option. Some people have found success by calling their provider and threatening to cancel service unless they receive a better deal.

March is Frozen Food Month and many frozen food items are on sale. Use this opportunity to stock up on frozen seafood, vegetables, and fruit.

April

If you’re due a return from the IRS, save it instead of splurging. According to a CNN report, 13.2% use their tax refund to make a major purchase, 11.9% use it on vacations, and 6.7% use it for miscellaneous purchases. However, unless you’re using the money to pay down debt, try to apply the money toward your saving goal.

May

Reevaluate your eating habits. Do you buy lattes every workday? Even if you only spend $2 a day, 5 days a week, that adds up to $40 a month. Instead, you can make coffee at home, and you only need milk and a microwave to make a latte. Also, if you buy bottled water, consider just getting a filter to put on your faucet.

Memorial Day weekend is a good time for markdowns on furniture and clothing, as well as such appliances as refrigerators.

June

Take a look at your credit cards. High interest rates could be costing you a lot of money.  For example, if you have a $3,000 card balance, and you only pay $70 a month, over half of your payment could be going toward interest (depending on your interest rate). As a result, the balance isn’t really going down. The sooner you pay off your credit card, the sooner you can start saving that money.

June is the most popular month for weddings, but don’t blow your budget on wedding gifts. Shop stores like TJ Maxx, Burlington Coat Factory, and Ross, to find such gifts as wine glasses for under $10.

July

Learn some new skills ts you can save the money you pay others. For example, learn how to cut your own hair and do your own manicures/pedicures at home. Cutting your own grass is also less expensive and provides a good workout.

While most people travel during this time of year, the Summer –  especially July – is considered the worst time to travel. Hotel rates and airfare are sky-high because everyone is on vacation during this time frame. Consider something less expensive – a day trip to a location a few hours away, such as a museum or aquarium.

August

National Garage Sale Day is the second Saturday in August. One way to make money is by decluttering your home and selling all of the items you no longer use or need. It’s best to start early in the morning (around 7am or 8am) since the noonday August heat can discourage potential buyers. If a garage sale is not your cup of tea, you can sell clothing on such websites as TheRealReal, ThredUp, and Twice.

Also, take advantage of no sales tax weekend in August to purchase school supplies and clothes. And, if you plan on getting major items for Christmas, like a computer, this is a good time to do it.

September

Although Summer is over, it’s usually pretty mild in September, so resist the urge to crank up the heat every time the temperature drops at night. By bundling up, you can probably dodge that heating bill until October. September is also a good time to prepare your home for winter. Seal up cracks and drafts around doors, windows, and pipes.

In addition, September is a good time to buy large appliances (except for refrigerators) since manufacturers are rolling out the new models and offering discounts on the older models.

October

This is a good month to evaluate your insurance needs. If you’ve been a safe driver for several years, are you being rewarded? If not, look at other companies that may offer better rates.  Evaluate your health insurance as well. If you’re healthy, a lower premium can help you save money. However, understand that if you do need health care services, you will have a higher deductible.

November

During the month of November, be thankful for what you have, while considering whether you really need to be out on Black Friday making impulse buys. If there are items that you truly need to buy, be sure to comparison shop to ensure that you’re getting the best price. Watch out for steep retail discounts that aren’t really discounts at all. For example, that $80 sweater offered at half price could have a retail price of $40 most days of the year.

December

‘Tis the season to be jolly, not the season to get in debt. Don’t go overboard buying gifts that may not be wanted or appreciated (an article in The Wall Street Journal states that 20% of all returns are made during the holiday season).

If you need to ship anything, do it on Free Shipping Day (which varies by year, but is during the 2nd or 3rd week of the month). Also, if you need a new car, December is the best month to purchase a vehicle, according to Edmonds, because the highest discounts occur in this month – however, the selection may not be as robust.

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