As the calendar turns to a new year, temperatures are plummeting in many parts of the U.S. But as the nation bundles up against the January cold, perhaps you are warming to the idea of saving more money in 2014.
Not sure how to begin this new habit? Here are three ways that can help you chart a path to financial prosperity this year.
1. Save an extra dollar each week
During the first week of 2014, save an extra $1. Put this money into a piggy bank in your home. Adding cash to your bank will help you feel the emotional impact of adding to your savings.
During the second week of 2014, save $2. During the third week, save $3.
This practice allows you to save a little extra money, one step at a time, without feeling deprived. Because you are taking baby steps, your weekly budget will easily adjust to having a little less to spend.
By December, you'll be putting aside as much as $52 per week -- more than $200 per month.
2. Cut 4 ongoing payments
Saving on your recurring monthly bills can be the gift that keeps giving all year long.
Look for ways to cut costs on at least four of your recurring bills. Perhaps you can downgrade to a cheaper cable TV package. If you are ambitious, cut cable completely and replace it with streaming programs and movies through services such as Netflix or Hulu.
Can you switch to a cheaper cellphone plan? Can you increase the deductible on your car insurance, and save the difference in an emergency fund?
If you can trim a simple $3 per month off a recurring bill, you'll save $36 per year. Cut such costs on four bills, and you've just saved $144.
3. Max out your company match
If your company offers a 401(k) match, maximize it. Save enough in your 401(k) to get the full match. This is one of the fastest and most effective ways to turbocharge your savings rate.
Let's say your company matches 50 cents for each dollar that you save, up through the first 6 percent. That's a decent chunk of change. Think of it as free money, or as raise that is earmarked strictly for retirement.
Paula Pant helps people ditch the cubicle and live on their own terms. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental property units and hasn't had an employer since 2008. Her blog, Afford Anything, is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say, "I can't afford it." Follow Paula on Twitter: @AffordAnything.