Are you re-evaluating your finances after the New Year? Then, you need to take a look at these ten money habits that everyone should follow. They will help you save more, spend less and revamp your entire financial situation so that it’s better than ever. 

1. Follow a Budget

The habit that you should make your top priority this year is to finally follow a budget. A budget will help you organize all of your monthly expenses into one neat space. It will show you how much you can reasonably afford to spend on essentials and non-essentials and what you can store away in your savings accounts. 

Without a budget, you’re going to be spending blindly — and this is how mistakes happen. You could overdraft accounts. You could bounce checks. You could miscalculate how much you need to set aside for bills and make late payments. You could drain your account well before your next payday. These are mistakes that you don’t want to make. 

So, how do you get started on this habit? Download one of the top budgeting apps on your smartphone or computer and then follow the instructions laid out for you. It’s that simple. 

2. Check Your Accounts 

It’s not enough to have a monthly budget — you have to make sure that you’re actually following the budget that you set for yourself. 

One way to do that is to check on your spending through your online banking. Many budgeting apps connect to your online banking, giving you real-time updates on your transactions. You’ll be able to determine whether you’re having an easy time following your budget’s boundaries or not.

Another good reason to start checking your accounts more often is that it can ease financial anxiety. If you’re always worried that you don’t have enough and you’re going to get yourself into a sticky situation, you should put these worries at ease by taking a look at your accounts and seeing exactly what you have. Think of it like exposure therapy. By confronting the source of your anxiety over and over again, you can minimize your reaction and make it much easier to contend with. 

3. Save for Emergencies

Another habit that you should take on this year is putting money aside in an emergency fund. An emergency fund is a collection of personal savings that you can use to cover urgent, unplanned expenses — think of emergency dental appointments, car repairs or home repairs. With these savings, you can pay for one of these serious expenses immediately without disrupting your budget for the month.

What if you don’t have an emergency fund? Without an emergency fund, you could put the charge onto your credit card and then pay down the balance later. Or, if you don’t want to do that, you may be able to qualify for a loan and use the borrowed funds to cover the urgent expense. Similar to a credit card, you can use a personal loan to deal with the emergency quickly and then manage the repayment process later. 

4. Think About Retirement  

Retirement may be a far-off concept, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be thinking about it right now. If you haven’t set aside any savings for your golden years, now’s the time to start. When you leave this responsibility for later, you’re forcing your future self to save up more in a shorter amount of time. That’s stress that you don’t need.

By starting the process early, you’ll give yourself plenty of time to build a comfortable nest egg. You’ll appreciate the forethought when you’re older. 

5. Pay More Than the Minimum

When it comes to your credit card bills, you shouldn’t be paying the minimum every time. The minimum is an option that allows you to pay a portion of your bill without getting hit with a late penalty. That’s it. It doesn’t take down your balance by very much. It doesn’t compete with the accrued interest. It just stops you from missing your bill and collecting an additional fee. 

If you can afford to pay more than the minimum, you should. 

6. Talk About Money

There’s no need to be so hush-hush about money. Keeping your financial matters secret can really backfire, especially when you’re keeping them secret from people you share payments with, like roommates or your romantic partner. It can lead to major conflicts and misunderstandings.

Be open and honest about your income, debt levels and your expectations for other contributors in your household. 

7. Ask for Raises

Many women in the workplace suffer from imposter syndrome and avoid asking their superiors to increase their pay, even when they prove that they deserve to earn that amount and more. So, this is the year where you should get in the habit of asking for a raise so that you start earning what you’re worth. The worst your boss will say is “no,” and your paycheck won’t change. 

8. Automate, Automate, Automate

One of the biggest benefits of online banking is that you can automate your bill payments. You don’t have to worry about a due date slipping your mind ever again. That payment will come out of your account automatically, which means no more late fees for you!

You can do more than automate payments to your creditors. You can automate payments to yourself, too. Every month, automate transfers of any savings from your budget into your savings accounts. You can use this feature to build up your emergency fund, retirement fund and more. 

9. Use Coupons

Your parents had the right idea when they used to clip coupons and bring them along to their trips to the grocery store. There is no reason that you should have to pay full price for every item in your cart. Clip coupons from your local flyers. Print out free digital coupons from couponing websites. Fill in discount codes at the checkout page. Use browser extensions to find deals and discounted rates whenever you search for potential purchases. 

Save yourself a little bit of money every time you shop. Those savings will add up quickly. 

10. Acknowledge Fun Spending

When you’re making a budget, be sure to include a section for fun spending. Being too strict with yourself will make being financially responsible a real pain, and it could push you to abandon the habit altogether. See how much you can afford to set aside for “fun things,” like a hobby or nights out with your friends. 

Even if money is tight, you should still try your best to reserve a little bit for small treats that will brighten your day, like lattes from your favorite coffee shop or delivery from your neighborhood’s pizzeria. 

Remember: your income isn’t just meant for paying bills and building savings. It’s meant for the fun things, too. Depriving yourself of the “fun things” in order to save will just encourage you to overspend when you get tired of pinching pennies.

These are money habits that you’ll want to follow for the rest of your life. So, stop waiting and get started on them.