How To Set New Year’s Resolutions That You’ll Keep (Part 2 of 2)

This is Part 2 Of A 2 Part Article

Remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry went to pick up his rental car?  The company had his reservation but didn’t have a car for him.  Jerry said, “You know how to “take” the reservation, you just don’t know how to “hold” the reservation.  And that’s really the most important part of the reservation: the holding.

That’s how it is with New Year’s resolutions.  Easy to make, difficult to hold.

Below are tips for “holding” the top five most popular New Year’s resolutions:

Financial wellness involves getting debt and spending under control.

Financial wellness involves getting debt and spending under control.

Reduce Spending

  • Eliminate impulse buying.  When in doubt about whether or not to make a purchase ask yourself if it’s something you can live without.  If you can live without it, don’t buy it.
  • Replace lights bulbs with CFLs and LEDs and turn them off when you leave the room.  Turn the thermostat down to 68 degrees (in the winter) and the hot water heater down to 120 degrees.  Small changes can add up to bigger savings over time.
  • Make credit card payments on time to avoid late fees, and check your bank account regularly to make sure you don’t overdraft your account.  Overdraft charges can cost $30 plus per transaction if the bank has to cover you.
  • Buy knock off brands and non-label foods.  You can save money without sacrificing good quality when you shop at Aldi.  It’s no-frills but the cost savings is worth it.
  • Shopping for furniture on Craig’s List or for clothes at the re-sale shop is a good way to purchase items at a very low price.  Some people are willing to practically give away gently appliances, sofas, and items like box springs if you’re willing to take them off their hands.

Save For Financial Emergency

  • Purchase a large piggy bank that you can put all of your loose change in each day.  Over time these small contributions add up to larger amounts that can be put into a savings account at the bank.
  • Have a rummage sale or put items that you no longer want, but are still in good shape, on Craig’s list.  Take the money you get from the sales in your rainy day fund.
  • Make your morning java or tea at home. Take the money you spend each morning at the local coffee shop and put it in the piggy bank.
  • Set up an automatic deduction from your paycheck each week to go directly into a savings account.
  • Make a pack with the other members of your family that you won’t make any more purchases until your emergency fund has an adequate amount of money in it.

Make More Time For Yourself

  • Get up 20 minutes earlier.  Just think what you could get done if you had an additional two hours of time each week.  Plus you can have a few extra minutes to yourself each morning to work on a hobby, get a chore done, meditate or read.
  • Turn off the ‘you’ve got mail’ alert on your computer.  Constantly checking mail and text messages is a huge waste of time.  It’s been estimated that it takes about 15 minutes to get back on track after each interruption.
  • Limit time on social networking sites. How much time do you spend mindlessly grazing Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter?  Cut it in half and have time to do something more worthwhile that you enjoy.
  • Turn off the phone.  Take a couple hours each week to do something you enjoy without the interruption of text messages, e-mail updates, or phone calls interfering.

Reduce Debt

  • Always pay more than the minimum amount required on credit cards and talk to your bank and credit card companies about a reduction in your interest rates.
  • Use the bonus or cash back points on your credit cards to go towards paying off the balance.
  • List all of your credit card balances in order from the highest balance to the smallest.  Work on paying off the card with the smallest balance first.  Continue to pay the minimum balance due on the rest.  Follow the process until all of the cards are paid off.
  • Refinance your home for a lower interest rate.  Make sure when you do this they will allow you to double up on payments or make more than the required monthly payment.
  • Open a new credit card that offers a 0% interest rate for one year. Transfer the balance of the other cards to the new one.  Continue to make more than the minimum monthly payments and don’t add any new purchases to the card.

Lose Weight

  • Keep an eye on mindless snacking by using a food tracker.  You don’t have any idea of how many calories you’re consuming when you eat a little-bit-of-this and a little-dab-of-that until you add them up.
  • Eliminate sugary drinks that have no nutritional value.  Cutting out high-calorie, zero-nutrient drinks and replacing them with water will save hundreds of calories a week.
  • Set realistic goals.  If your goal is to lose 50 pounds you’ve got a mountain to climb.  If your goal is to lose five, you’ve got a hill.  Set a goal to lose five pounds instead of 50.  Each time you lose five, re-set the goal until you get to 50.
  • Avoid fad diets where you lose weight fast and put it back on even faster.  A sensible eating plan combined with moderate amounts of exercise will get you to your goal and help you stay there.
  • Rally support.  Groups like Weight Watchers @ Work, Spark People, and other weight loss communities supply motivation that is hard to find on your own every day.

Keeping The Reservation

Jerry Seinfeld, known for Seinfeld – the best comedy of all time – learned how to keep the reservation. Early in his career he decided he would spend some time every day writing jokes.  He put up a wall calendar and put an X through every day he did some writing, gradually creating a chain of X’s. His only job was to not break the chain.

That’s our job too.  Pick a doable goal.  Put up a calendar and each day you achieve the goal put an X through it and make a chain of X’s. Don’t break the chain.

To read part 1 of How To Set New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Keep click here.

Happy New Year!

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