Most of us will have spent New Year’s Eve toasting to the last year and resolving that 2018 will finally be the year that we change our bad habits. But while we might be making these changes for our health or social life, the best New Year’s Resolutions result in a much happier bank account. Take a look at our top 5 New Year’s Resolutions that could unintentionally save you money:
Changing your diet
If you’re not used to filling the trolley with fresh fruit and vegetables then you might find yourself thinking the age-old myth that “healthy eating is expensive”. If you’re smart with your planning and take all meals into consideration, you’ll soon find that healthy eating can easily benefit your bank balance as well as your body.
Giving up the ready-meals, takeaways and lunchtime meal deals is a sure-fire way to start seeing benefits. Cooking from scratch is quicker and easier than it sounds, will be much healthier for you, and, if you cook up big batches, can be turned into portions to freeze for another day or to bring in as a packed lunch. You can find lots of cost-efficient recipes online that won’t cost you a penny to download! The Hairy Bikers, Jamie Oliver and Joe Wicks all have a fantastic selection of healthy recipes available online that are quick and straight-forward to make.
Here are a few tips to help you save money whilst eating healthily:
- Make smart swaps; a banana is much cheaper than a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps, and is much better for you too!
- Plan your food shop ahead of time; come armed with a list and don’t shop on an empty stomach to make sure you’re at maximum motivation to avoid the junk food aisles.
- Save money on fruit and vegetables; paying out for a pricey avocado you don’t even want to eat can be painful, but if you stick to seasonal veg and/or get frozen options then you’ll feel much less begrudging about paying for them.
- Avoid expensive diet plans and meal replacement drinks; it’s been proven again and again that a lifestyle change is more successful than a quick-fix diet, and it will be much cheaper too. Imagine spending all that money on tasteless diet shakes, only to give up after a day or to pile all the weight back on a week later!
Kicking the nicotine habit
The NHS claim that most people who quit smoking save around £250 each month, or in other words, just under £3,000 a year (you can get a more accurate number using their cost calculator)! So if you’re planning to tackle your nicotine addiction this year, then your bank balance will likely be jumping for joy.
However, of the people who used NHS Stop Smoking Services in 2015/6, only 51% of people reported that they had successfully quit at their 4 week follow-up. Giving up is difficult, and the more realistic you are with yourself, the more likely you are to succeed.
You won’t save much money by giving in before January is over, or by forking out a fortune on vapes, chewing gum and patches to try to keep yourself going. So why not be kind to yourself, and try cutting out just 1 or 2 cigarettes a day. Once you get comfortable with that, try cutting back even further. Even halving the amount you smoke will make an important impact on your health and wallet, and if you’re serious about giving up for good then slow and steady changes could win you the race.
Ditching the drink
Let’s face it, there’s nothing like a booze-fuelled festive season to make you realise that you could benefit from waking up with a headache and a dry mouth a little less this year. But just in case you need another reason to cut back, Macmillan Cancer Support found that the average Brit spends £787 a year on alcohol!
Initiatives such as Dry January are a great way to kick-start your alcohol detox, especially if you can get your friends involved too. But remember that a long-term change is more likely to have a positive impact on your health and money.
Try alternating alcoholic drinks with soft drinks or water, and try to cut down on habits such as sharing a bottle of wine on a Friday night or buying rounds at the pub. Most importantly, don’t let cutting down on the booze keep you from seeing your friends. The sooner you discover that you can still have a good night with an orange juice in hand, the easier saying no to another pint will become.
Getting more exercise
There’s no doubt that more exercise can do wonders for your health, but it will take a smart approach to see the difference to your spending habits too. Gym memberships can tempt you in with January deals, but that monthly expense can soon become a burden, especially when it turns colder and you’ve resigned yourself to the sofa instead. There are plenty of ways to get your heartrate up without spending a penny:
- Use online videos and tutorials to exercise at home. You’re much more likely to keep at it if you can do your exercises in front of the TV with the heating on.
- Walk, run or cycle to work. This will save you money in public transport fares or petrol, and will put your time spent commuting to good use (instead of sitting in traffic!)
- Go for a lunchtime walk. Not only will this get your steps up, but will get you away from your workplace and clear your head for the rest of your shift.
- Dance and play games at home. You’ll need to get your family involved in this one, but if you get creative then suddenly you’ll see lots of opportunity to exercise. The dining table can easily become a ping-pong table. The radio can turn an ironing session into a dance-a-thon. And a game of charades will work up more of sweat than sitting in front of the TV.
Seeing more of your friends
We’re all guilty of it; we finally manage to find time to catch up with our friends at Christmas and we’re soon full of mince pies, mulled wine and promises to see more of each other in the New Year. But when you start to add up the costs of cinema tickets, drinks out, food bills and day trips, you soon find that those meet-ups start to dwindle to a once-in-a-while treat.
The less you see of your friends, the more it feels as if you have to do something special when you do meet up, but if you can get a regular date in the calendar, then a cheap meet-up will soon become the norm. You could arrange a movie night for the last Sunday of every month; take it in turns to host and simply stock up on microwave popcorn, DVDs and hot chocolate.
What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Let us know on our Facebook page! If your resolutions are focused around saving money then take a look at our 10 Budgeting Mistakes to Avoid to help you stick to your goal.