The year 2013 is finally at an end, and now it’s time to gear up for 2014. That means new resolutions and goals. Want to save up for a house, a vacation, or a special event? Or perhaps you are a business owner that wants to be more efficient with money to increase revenue. Why not make keeping a tighter budget one of your goals for 2014? Here are some tips for budgeting smarter in 2014:

5 Ways to Budget Smarter in 2014

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  1. Evaluate Your Expenses: Take a good, round look at your expenses over the past year. Which categories do they fall under? Banks like Wells Fargo do a fair job of splitting up spending into a variety of groups, like food, retail, and bills. Once you have the big picture, determine which expenses must remain as they are, which can be reduced, which can be eliminated, and which can be put off.
  2. Pay the Best Rate: Every month, we pay bills. Some costs won’t change—like rent—but others might be able to be reduced. Take a look at bills like your cell phone, cable TV, and power. Do you really need all that you’re paying for? Additionally, sometimes bills like loan payments and mortgages can be negotiated at a lower rate.
  3. Value vs. Vanity: When making purchases this coming year, make an effort to get the most bang for your buck. Are you actually paying more for a higher value product, or are you simply paying more for a big name brand with mediocre products?
  4. Eat In, Not Out: A meal out can be a wonderful thing, but it’s easy to overdo it. Dinner for one at a restaurant can easily reach $30, so going out just two times per week could add up to $240 in one month. In contrast, cooking dinners at home for one person (and using leftovers as lunch) can easily be kept under $200 per month.
  5. Rule Out Impulse Purchases: Following this simple rule can save a surprising amount of money. Consumers are often lured in by discount prices and the fear that if they don’t purchase said item before the discount ends they’ll regret it. The problem with that is that sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether said item or service is really something necessary or wanted—or if it’s just appealing because of the sale. Implement a waiting period to give yourself time to decide whether or not to purchase.