By Autumn Rose GOBankingRates.com.
It's the start of the new year, and many people are recovering from post-holiday shopping debt and putting together a list of resolutions for 2016. If saving money is on your list of goals for this year, you're not alone. Money goals came in third on the list of resolutions, according to a report by Statistic Brain Research Institute.
Sometimes, keeping a New Year's resolution is easier said than done, in fact, 8 percent of people who make resolutions are successful in achieving them, according to Statistic Brain. When it comes to money-saving tactics, it's best to set specific and achievable goals for yourself in order to stick to your commitment, as people who make explicit resolutions are 10 times more likely accomplish their goals than those who do not.
This year, plan to get ahead of the game by focusing on financial trends that you can anticipate in advance. Here's a roundup of expert advice on how to save money in 2016, based on current and predicted events.
INVEST IN YOUR HEALTH Commit to two New Year's resolutions at once, vow to invest in your health in order to invest in your financial future. Nate Michaels of personal finance blog HackingYourBudget.com recommended focusing on your health to save money on medical expenses.
"Investing in your health is a long-term challenge, but there are still short-term gains that can realized by not getting sick and spending money on doctors' visits, (not) having to fill costly prescriptions and not having to miss work," Michaels said.
"While some of this investment can come in the way of food, Harvard suggests it costs $1.50 extra per day to eat healthy, it is also important to remember that you can find savings by using your time for exercise. Cut out the monthly gym expense and enjoy the outdoors; it's free."
In addition to improving health to decrease medical expenses, it's more important than ever to make sure you are properly insured in case any medical emergencies do come up. Not to mention, according to Healthcare.gov, if you can afford health insurance but choose not to enroll, you'll have to pay what's called an individual shared responsibility payment fee. Plus, you could pay more out of pocket when emergencies do arise if you aren't covered by insurance.
The open enrollment period for anyone without health insurance closes on Jan. 31. If you are currently employed and enrolled in an employer-sponsored plan, be sure to know when your open enrollment period is scheduled. Take a look at how your plan might be changing, and what that could mean for your premium, deductible and other expenses.
WATCH WHAT YOU EAT Food prices fluctuate each year, and if you pay attention to trends, you could save a significant amount of money at the grocery store. Supermarket food prices are expected to rise 2 to 3 percent in 2016, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.
This predicted increase is based on an assumption of normal weather conditions. However, severe weather or other unforeseen events could drive up food prices even more. On the other hand, if oil prices remain low, decreases in production and transportation costs could ultimately translate into lower retail food prices on grocery stores shelves, according to the report. It's also helpful to know which 2015 events could continue to affect the price of food in the new year.
"The poultry industry is still recovering from avian flu, so eggs will be more expensive, and higher demand on full-fat dairy products and all types of meat will have the same effect," said Benjamin K. Glaser, features editor at DealNews.com. "Also, extended drought in many growing regions around the world, including California, Brazil and West Africa, is leading to shortages of items, including chocolate, avocados and almonds."
USE YOUR TAX REFUND WISELY Tax season is right around the corner, and it's the perfect opportunity to bank major savings. Scott Smith, president of CreditRepair.com, recommended using tax refunds to create or increase an emergency fund.
"Savings equals security, and living without an emergency fund is a risk that nobody should take," he said. "Maintaining at least three to six months' worth of income will shelter you from credit-busting events like unemployment, increased cost of living, medical emergencies and home or auto damage ... Those who earn higher income should set the bar at a 12-month savings."
Whatever income bracket you're in, the point of an emergency fund should be to break the cycle of debt and build financial security, said Smith. It's better to dip into your savings rather than use credit, but be sure to build your savings back up again, he added.
The 2016 tax season is scheduled to begin Jan. 19, and this year the deadline to file a tax return is April 18, rather than the traditional April 15. File your taxes as soon as possible to get ahead of the game. ___ GOBankingRates.com is a leading portal for personal finance news and features, offering visitors the latest information on everything from interest rates to strategies on saving money, managing a budget and getting out of debt.