This  year, I’m focusing on one primary financial goal: boost my savings! But obtaining this goal requires a bit of a road map; specific instructions on ways to increase my pitiful savings amounts. Part 2 of my goals for 2011 focuses one one solution -finite gift cards.

I’ve always enjoyed staring at my colorful Quickbook’s pie charts, then evaluating how much I’m spending on a monthly and yearly basis. I can estimate how much I spend on each category, then plug those numbers into my excel budget sheet and come up with a fairly accurate budget. However, this past year I tried to stick to my excel budget yet found that I spent more than I had anticipated while viewing my year-end Quickbooks report. Seems I have a bit of a leaky budget I need to attend to.

But where are the leaks? One of my leaks seems to be bad habits, like my Starbucks  habit and my husband’s cigar smoking habit. Yet I have a solution to fixing this “leak”: Finite gift cards.

This year, I’m going to decrease my visits to Starbucks by a total of 6 days a month. It doesn’t seem like much, but my strategy is to load my Starbucks Gold Card on the first of the month with a set amount. When that amount runs out, it means preparing coffee at home. I have a wonderful French Press and some yummy Cinnamon Starbucks coffee (thanks to Linsey Knerl) that is just as tasty, well almost, as my Iced Grande, 8 pump vanilla, no water Americano. Total savings per month: $15.00.

My husband’s habit is a little more expensive, but sticking to a finite amount at the beginning of the month will help reduce his cost by about $20 per month.

Ultimately, my goal is to find the extra $200 to pad my savings account. I’ve found $35 so far. Next post I’ll describe another major leak that should shore up a few more dollars and get me closer to that $200.

What strategies are you giving a go-ahead to achieve your goals or resolutions for 2011?