This is a guest post by Marie Hickman. You can read more about her at the end of the post! Write for us.
Nearly half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8 percent of us keep our promises, according to a survey by the University of Scranton.
Top reasons (excuses) include lack of money, lack of opportunity and – almost everyone’s sticking point – lack of time.
If you’re determined to realize your goals this year, check out some frugal ways to achieve the top ten resolutions…
1. Lose Weight
Is this the year you drop those extra pounds and lower that BMI? Check out low-cost gym memberships or YMCA fitness classes. Take a walk on your lunch hour or after dinner. Yeah, at first you’ll have to force yourself. If you’re a busy single parent, find a trusted neighbor who is willing to swap jogging time with child care. Check out used sporting goods stores for cheap stair-steppers you can use for bad weather days.
2. Get Organized
Yes, it’s easy to psyche yourself out of cleaning if you’re looking at the big picture. If sorting feels overwhelming, eat the elephant one bite at a time: unclutter your space shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer, and room by room.
Toss all the questionable items into a box in each room, then give yourself a set amount of time to make a decision on each item. There is no need to invest in deluxe organizational systems until you know where everything should go. Repurposed shoe boxes, tackle boxes, produce containers and dollar-store organizers work just as well as the expensive items.
3. Save More Money
This is the mother of them all. You will never get a handle on your finances unless you know exactly where your money is going. Use an expense tracking app. Learn to clip and click coupons and try out rebate apps. You can always uninstall them. Prioritize what’s essential, what’s important and what can go. Figure out what your weak spot is – gaming, dining out, entertainment – and vow to cut back. Move any money you save in any category, such as groceries and clothing, into a sub-account in your bank. Other people swear by using actual cash envelopes. It’s been said many times and many ways, but it’s vital to track your spending. Make 2015 the year you do it.
4. Stay Healthy
The easiest, cheapest way to stay healthy isn’t fancy vitamins or restrictive diets. It’s washing your hands often. It’s getting enough rest. It’s moving more than sitting. And it’s filling your plate with fruits and veggies. Learn to think of meat as a garnish instead of a centerpiece.
Portion control is a big problem for many people. Get yourself out of starvation mode and get it into your brain that carrot sticks and apple slices won’t kill you when you feel like snacking. Keep telling yourself you can always treat yourself tomorrow. Delayed gratification is a good trait to develop.
5. Learn Something New
You can still learn without spending a ton of money. Take an online course or buy an e-book subscription to listen while you commute or exercise. Read a book on the train. Learn a new language. And don’t forget your local library: check out a book or book-on-CD. Even watching a TV show you don’t normally watch expands your thinking. Or try reading an opposing viewpoint uncritically can keep those synapses popping.
6. Give More Time to Others
There is no better way to step away from your own worries like alleviating someone else’s. Start small. Volunteer for one school event, write a letter to one soldier overseas or help with a local park cleanup. Pay someone else’s toll or sweep a neighbor’s walkway. Giving is addictive and it doesn’t have to cost a dime.
7. Quit Smoking
Speaking of addictions, the cost of smoking is becoming as big a deterrent as the health risks. Cold turkey is still the safest and most effective way to quit; but not everyone can handle the craving shockwave. Vaping is not a perfect solution – juice and batteries go fast and wicks need replacing – but it sure feels like smoking.
Eventually, consider transitioning to nicotine gum to keep your mouth busy. Then, instead of “stepping down” in nicotine levels, cut each piece in half to make your supply last longer. Gradually replace it with regular pieces of gum. In your everyday life, replace smoke with fresh air. Vow to go for a brisk walk when you feel a craving. You’ll lessen the odds of weight gain. Think about all the money you’re saving with each deep breath.
8. Find Love
Yes, this is a top resolution! Easier said than done, of course. If you’re single and looking, see #5. Pursuing your own life’s passion will attract those who share it. Still, there’s no harm in trying the internet if you carefully vet the site and the prospects on it. There are almost always promo codes to save on dating site memberships, so if it doesn’t work out, you won’t feel like you’ve wasted too much money. Also try your church, free festivals or volunteer work.
9. Spend More Time With Family
This can mean more dinners together or writing a thinking-of-you letter once a month to faraway friends. Heck, it can just mean putting down the smartphone during meals. Sit down with a loved one who is struggling with a dilemma. Sometimes, just being a sounding board will help more than you know. Help someone spruce up their resume or watch their kids while they go back to school.
Don’t Forget Yourself!
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to keep a New Year’s resolution; you just have to be willing to spend time on yourself a day at a time. Sometimes this involves spending money, but it doesn’t have to. You have about 365 days to try it out.
About the Author:
Marie Hickman is a journalist, world traveler and online couponing expert. She writes about frugal living and enjoying life on a budget for the Valpak blog, Behind the Blue. She and her son live in Palm Harbor, Florida.