Experts were asked to weigh in on what our personal finance priorities ought to be in 2012. With economic uncertainty still the order of the day, your best strategy for financial health is to control the things you can control.
So, here are 7 financial moves to make in the new year.
1. Trim Your Waistline — and Your Insurance Premiums
Two ever-popular resolutions are to lose weight and quit smoking. Those are good ideas not just for your health, but for your wallet, too.
According to research from eHealthInsurance, smokers pay an average monthly health insurance premium that’s 14% higher than for nonsmokers. Being heavy costs big too: Obese policyholders pay 22.6% more on average than their normal-weight counterparts.
As an added incentive, some employers and insurers are offering rewards in the form of gift cards or discounted deductibles for employees with healthy habits and fewer sick visits to the doctor.
2. Become a Smarter Shopper
Vicky Oliver, in her column Eight New Year’s Resolutions for Frugalistas, advises trying to stay one step ahead of the retailers who are forever luring us with clever marketing strategies. “BOGO” sales (Buy-One-Get-One), she points out, only save you money if you actually want the second item. Ditto for “loss leaders,” — items the store under-prices so far that it loses money on them, in the hope that once you’re there to buy them, you’ll also pick up some higher-margin items that will allow them to turn a profit on you. Using special promotions and loss leaders only when they can really supercharge your savings — and shunning them otherwise — is the best frugalista formula, Oliver says.
She also recommends becoming a “groupie.” Take advantage of the power of group buying sites, like Groupon and LivingSocial, that offer deep discounts, and special promotions from social sites like foursquare.