It’s a new year, and everyone has big plans to finally do all those things they’ve been saying that they are going to do. However, according to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of Americans will fail by February.1 Trying to inculcate a more optimistic mental perspective will certainly be helpful in reaching those New Year’s resolutions, as will these tips that can help you save when meeting your resolutions. Let’s look at some of the most common new year’s resolutions and tips to help you stick to them and save on costs.
1. Working Out
For most people, their number one goal for the New Year is to exercise more. I personally am hoping to run a half-marathon for the first time this year. Obviously, exercising takes a lot of physical discipline, but it doesn’t have to require a lot of money. U.S. Today found that 67% of gym memberships go unused, and that’s an average of around $60 a month that people are wasting by not going to the gym!2
If your new year’s resolution is to work out, you might consider foregoing a gym membership. Instead, explore low-cost or even free options such as following exercise videos on YouTube, renting videos from the library, or looking up exercise programs on the internet. Often times, you can find effective exercises already put together for you, and you won’t have to do any thinking at all.
You could then use that $60 a month toward a reward for yourself. Maybe if you know that you’ll get a nice dinner at the end of the month for staying consistent with your workout schedule, that may motivate you. Or you could use the extra money to pay for a race fee like I am. Since I know that I’ll be spending $100 to participate in the half-marathon, I’ll be motivated to reach my goal and not waste that money.
2. Eating Better
Whether you want to cut down on all those sugary drinks at Starbucks or start a new paleo diet, eating better is another common new year’s resolution. But before you spend lots of money on a diet plan, you might consider looking into ways you can get those foods at your local grocery store. With Pinterest, Youtube, and recipes online, you are sure to find everything you may need for your new diet. If you purchase a diet plan through a company, it could be very expensive, but if you make the same recipes on your own, it could be a fraction of the cost of a diet plan.
I would recommend finding a grocery store where you can get fuel rewards and can purchase a variety of produce and goods. Since you will likely be doing most of your grocery shopping at this store, you will become very acquainted with the store and their sales. You can save a lot of money if you base your meals for the week around their sales. When I lived in Virginia and North Carolina, my store of choice was Harris Teeter because I got fuel rewards, lots of discounts, and normally spent less than $200 a month on groceries. Don’t think that using coupons is too provincial! It may seem cheap, but I’ve found that it saves a fair amount of money in the long run.
3. Giving Up a Bad Habit
No matter how long you’ve had your bad habit, the new year seems like a great time to make a fresh start. Cutting out a bad habit often means that you’ll be spending less money, and you should plan to reward yourself by putting that money toward a good habit or something you’ve always wanted to do.
While I’m not here to be a moralist, it’s true that giving up smoking is good for your physical and financial health. According to the University of Massachusetts Medical School, if you smoke one pack of cigarettes a day, that’s roughly $2,000 a year.3 By giving up this habit, you could have a substantial amount of money to put toward your retirement fund or go on that trip to New Zealand!
Similarly, your resolution may be that you want to spend less money on alcohol or even cut it out entirely. Huffington Post reports that one man was able to afford a down payment on a truck by not drinking for a month while another man saved $1,000 a month just by cutting out coffee and alcohol.4 If you are like these men, you could save thousands by cutting out alcohol. Even if you want to cut down your drinking habit by one less drink per week, you will see substantial financial benefits. Now you extra money to put toward paying down your debt or buying a house.
4. Expanding Your Mind
If you’re a lifelong learner like I am, you might like resolutions that expand your mind. For example, maybe you want to read more. In 2017, I set a goal of reading 52 books, meaning that I would average one book a week. I’m proud to say that I met my goal, and I didn’t have to break the bank to do so. I read a lot of e-books on my Kindle that I got through my library. I also went to my local library and bought some books in the bargain corner for 50 cents to a $1 a piece. I probably spent less than $10 and was still able to meet my goal. If reading more is your goal this year, try these tips to save on costs.
If you want to learn a new language, renting books from the library is always a great option that is easy on your finances. Additionally, you can look into free apps like Duolingo, which I’ve been using to learn French, or Rosetta Stone.
If you want to expand your cooking skills, there are many recipes available online that make it easy to learn how to cook. Youtube is also a great free resource.
On the other hand, if you want to try a new hobby, include that in your budget. For example, I decided I wanted to try rowing one year, so I budgeted about $100 and looked into a variety of rowing classes and organizations that would allow me to fit into the money I had set aside.
If you want to dress with style, shopping sale racks and Goodwill are options to get great deals on clothing. If you want to be easier on the environment, Rent the Runway is an excellent way to try a lot of new clothing by renting instead of buying it.
Finally, if you want to travel more, seek out discounts. For example, you may be able to receive a discount if you fly on holidays, during the week, or during the slow season. You may also be able to get free hotel stays through a travel rewards loyalty program.
All in all, expanding your mind and developing a new positive habit doesn’t have to be costly if you look into inexpensive or even free alternatives!
5. Being Happier in Life
Every year, we hope that the next year is better than the last one, so maybe your New Year’s resolution is to be happier in life. Maybe you want to make new friends. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, though. Consider looking into Meetup groups that will be inexpensive or even free like book clubs or social groups. If you’re religious, you may be able to find a small group where you can meet friends without spending lots of money.
In the end, though, what we need to be happy in life aren’t material things. It’s what money can’t buy: time with family and friends. As you begin this New Year with eager expectations for all that it could be, remember that you can make good financial decisions as you meet your New Year’s resolutions!
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