How to achieve your New Year’s resolutions on a budget

Runner enjoys his New Year's resolutions on a budgetImage: Runner enjoys his New Year's resolutions on a budget

In a Nutshell

Want to achieve your New Year's resolutions without breaking the bank? Here are a few ways you can save money on your goals.
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The new year is here, and many people are setting goals and making resolutions so that this year can be even better than the last.

Resolutions can help us progress on our life goals, but they can also be expensive. Luckily, there are ways to achieve your New Year’s resolutions without breaking the bank. Read on to learn how you can save money on some of the most common resolutions this year.

Resolution: Improve health and wellness.

After the hectic holiday season, many people want to focus on their health and wellness. According to a recent survey from the online polling firm YouGov, the top two resolutions of 2017 were eating healthier (37 percent) and exercising more (37 percent). But before you go out and buy a new gym membership or diet program, consider these frugal or free alternatives.

  • Go walking. Walking is a low-impact exercise that can help burn calories and clear your head. This year, try walking places instead of driving and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. A good goal is to walk for 20 to 30 minutes a day.
  • Try running. Want something with a little more impact? Consider running. There are several free programs that can help non-runners or people who haven’t exercised in a while train for their first race. Check out the Couch to 5K® training schedule for inspiration.
  • Do the seven-minute workout. Want to exercise but don’t have much time? This short yet effective workout can get your heart pumping with just a few minutes a day.
  • Meditate. In today’s busy world, it’s easy to let stress get the best of you. To help calm your mind, consider meditation. Apps like Headspace can help, with sessions themed around everything from reducing stress to falling asleep.

Resolution: Learn something new.

Have you always dreamed of learning another language? Are you interested in developing new skills to enhance your career? In the new year, many people are looking to improve their skills or try out a new hobby. However, starting something new could potentially be a large investment.

The good news is that there are many free and low-cost options for you to learn something new. For example, you can:

  • Learn a language for free using Duolingo.
  • Take a class online from world-renowned universities using Coursera. Classes are open to anyone, and financial aid is available if you qualify.
  • Take a class at your local community center or park. Typically, these classes are affordable and can help you learn in a hands-on setting.
  • Go to Meetups to practice languages and learn new skills.

Resolution: Spend more time with friends and family.

The holiday season can be a great reminder of how important your friends and family are. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and spend quality time with the people who matter most to you. Many of us want to focus on spending more time with friends and family but feel like it costs too much time and money. Here are some frugal alternatives that are both time-effective and cost-effective.

  • Host a potluck. You don’t have to go to an extravagant dinner to spend time with your friends and family. Consider hosting a potluck or picnic, where everyone contributes to the meal.
  • Video chat with your family and friends. If you live away from your family and friends, schedule weekly Skype or FaceTime dates to stay in touch.

Resolution: Travel more.

A new year can bring hope for new adventures and new experiences. The problem? Travel can be pricey. But that doesn’t mean you should just stay at home and do nothing this year. Instead, try using these tips to travel without killing your budget.

  • Start planning now. Affordable travel is more achievable if you plan ahead. Start saving for it every month, and consider using credit card rewards to help minimize your costs.
  • Look for deals on sites like Travelzoo and consider traveling during off-peak times (which change depending on the location). Compare various airports and locations to find the best deals.
  • Go camping. Camping is a frugal travel option that can help you experience the great outdoors and get some rest and relaxation. Don’t worry — if camping isn’t your thing, many campsites have yurts or cabins for people who may not be a fan of “roughing it.”

Bottom line

The new year is a great time to think about your goals and resolutions, but you don’t have to spend all of your extra money to achieve them. Consider these frugal or free alternatives to help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions this year.

About the author: Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer and editor currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy and empowering people to take control of thei… Read more.