Each New Year we make heartfelt promises to ourselves to start eating healthily, to quit smoking, to cut back on alcohol, to join a salsa class etc.
Of course, most of us end up breaking these New Year’s resolutions within a few days. In fact a supplements company called Discount Supplements has found that 80% of new year’s resolutions are broken by March!
So what’s the trick to making a resolution that you can really stick to and how can you make the most of it?
- Make new year changes that will last
- Step by step guide to keeping your New Year resolutions
- Get your finances sorted the easy way
- Ideas for new year resolutions you could make this year
- Share your new year resolutions with everyone by commenting here
The reason many New Year’s resolutions don’t work is that we base them around negative changes – things we like that we should give up, or things we don’t like that we should take up. Adopting a more positive, and more realistic approach to your plans for 2012 will make it much easier to reach those goals.
There are three main ways to set up new, healthier habits and to stick to them.
- Think of them in a positive rather than a negative way (in other words, think about what you will gain rather than what you will lose because of these resolutions).
- Be realistic with your goals so that you are more likely to keep them rather than fail and get disheartened.
- Set yourself deadlines.
Step One: Take some quiet time and gather friends, family, or whoever else will give you positive input, a big piece of paper and some pens.
Step Two: Write down all the things you want to achieve over the year. Note down everything that comes to mind and get your friends/family to join in.
Step Three: Prioritise. Pick three or four ideas to take further. These could relate to short-term goals such as losing weight or more long term goals like becoming your own boss.
Step Four: Write each goal down, and commit to seeing each one through. Put them up on your fridge so you – and your family – can be reminded of what you’re working towards.
Step Five: Work out how you are going to achieve each goal. Take one piece of paper for each goal and split that goal into a series of steps. Ideally, you should have between one and three goals with three steps for each. Don’t overwhelm yourself with things to do!
The most important thing is to keep things simple and set yourself tasks that you know you can accomplish. For example, do you want to lose weight? Give the goal a positive angle, for example, an action packed holiday, or a dress that you want to wear for a loved one’s wedding.
- Start walking briskly three or four times a week – to the shops, to pick up the kids from school.
- Take this up a notch every few weeks and try to walk a little further each time.
- Eventually you can take on some jogging around the park once a week and some simple exercises at home (running up and down the stairs, lifting cans to tone your arms – whatever takes your fancy!).
One of the major resolutions for the new year for many of us will be to sort out our finances. As with any resolution you need to think positively and set lots of small, achievable tasks. If you’re struggling financially you won’t be able to fix all your problems straight away so don’t think of this as your aim. Simply focus on small steps that you can take easily and use to progress into financial stability.
A new year brings a fresh start so it’s the ideal time to sort out your finances once and for all.
1. First – make a budget
We can’t emphasise enough how helpful it is to work out all your outgoings and incomings. Once you’ve worked out how much you’re spending and how much is coming in each month you can see exactly where you need to cut costs. Use our brand new budget calculator and you’ll get all the maths done for you!
2. Ditch the debt
Paying off debt is the most important step in sorting out your finances. Cut up any credit and store cards. Then move your debt to a 0% credit card if you are able to. There are some great 0% deals around still although they may not last the year out. See our guide to the best 0% deals here. Then follow our step-by-step guide to getting out of debt. Also, for extra help, join our free Get Out of Debt programme where we send you emails regularly to give you support.
3. Start cutting costs
Think about where all your money goes. Rent or mortgage payments take a big chunk from most people’s income but there are still plenty of simple but effective ways to cut other costs. A good place to start off is your energy bills – you’ll be amazed at how easy this is. You can save around £530 without having to lift a finger. Get started with our energy comparison service.
Now think about your shopping
Buy as much as you can online. Online shopping is quicker and cheaper than hitting the high street. You can easily compare prices on Mysupermarket to find the best bargains. Also think about using your local street market. Their prices are generally cheaper than the supermarket and you can get great bargains at the end of the day.
Transport is expensive
Few people take the time to check whether they can save money on transport costs before it’s too late. For example, there are lots of sneaky ways to slash the price of your train tickets – particularly if you act fast and buy tickets in advance. Take a look at our golden rules to cheaper train tickets here.
Motorists spend huge amounts of money to own and drive a car.
But there are other options for drivers – see how sharing a car or joining a car club could save you money here. There are also some simple things you can do today to cut your driving costs. If you could walk or cycle to work, start doing that, at least a few days a week. The savings will really add up and you could even drop your gym membership as the exercise will keep you fit enough.
Also, get as much as you can for free.
For a start, join some mystery shopping agencies to get free dinners, free hotel stays and more just for answering a few questions about your experience. Also get free goodies to test out for Toluna. They have loads of products they need to have tested so if you sign up for the testing side can get new things every month. Right now, for example, they’re getting people to test out Garnier Hand Cream and pots of caviar…yes seriously! So you can see the kind of things you could get to try for nothing.
4. Beef up your savings
Once you’ve paid off your debt (and not until then) it’s really important to get some savings together to help you cope with rainy days. The first thing to do is to set up a high interest, easy access account and start putting money into it each month. You will need to save enough to pay your bills for three to six months. This is a kind of self-insurance plan. It means that if you suddenly can’t earn for a few months you will be able to pay your mortgage and feed everyone without going into debt.
5. Start making money
There are hundreds of different ways to make extra money (and therefore pay off your debts and start saving faster) so you’re bound to find something that fits into your lifestyle perfectly. Take a look at some of our suggestions…
- Make money in your spare time: Use your lunch hour wisely and start piling up the pennies by getting paid to surf the net. Get paid pocket money in your spare time by doing online surveys.
- Make money from your hobby: If you love to knit you can turn your favourite pastime into a money-spinner.
- Make money sitting down: If all that sounds like hard work why not get paid to sit down instead. You could house sit at someone’s posh house and make money living in someone else’s luxury! Or, why not let your own home make you some cash by renting out your driveway?
- Keep your goals within reach. The fridge is a good place to stick your goals so that you’re reminded of them – and the improvement they’ll make.
- Revisit and review your progress. Plan regularly to review your goals (maybe once a month for short term goals or every six months for long term goals). How have you done? What could you do better? Do you need to make your goal more specific? While it’s important to set realistic goals, don’t be tempted to give yourself an easy ride by making them too soft.
- When you achieve a goal, celebrate! Building yourself a richer life is about knowing what you want and taking one step at a time to get there. When the celebrating is over, you can set yourself a new goal.
Here are a few examples of other resolutions you might make this year how you can make them actually work. What if you want to…
- Lose weight? Walk for 30 minutes three times a week to fit into a new size 14 dress for daughter’s wedding in 18 months.
- Get a better job? Review my skills and get extra training where necessary to become a plumber. Write a CV and use it to secure an apprenticeship with a local plumber.
- Eat better? Replace two sweets/cake snacks a week with a healthier alternative, like dried fruit, yoghurt or unsalted nuts.
- Get a better education? If you have a spare room then take in a lodger with a discount for baby-sitting which will help pay for you to take a six-week night course in reading, writing and maths.
- Drink less alcohol? Plan a fun, day-time outing or activity with friends each Sunday for three months. Use £15 a week saved from money not spent the night before and put the other £15 a week saved to learn to dance salsa.
- Quit smoking? Save £50 a week for two years (total £5,200) in a high-interest savings account towards a six-week trip to Australia by not having a Starbucks coffee and cigarette each morning.
- Start your own business? Take a night course in accounting and running a small business to get confidence and skills to start an online toy store in two years time (and become my own boss).
- Have a really good holiday abroad? Look after neighbourhood children Friday afternoons for six months to save £1,000 for a special family trip to Disneyland Paris.
- Help others more? Invite an elderly person or two to afternoon tea with my family once a month. Sign up with the volunteer service at my local council. Become a mentor to a local teenager through a mentoring programme.
What are your resolutions for this year, and do you have any tips for keeping them? Let us know below.