Ah, New Year’s.
The holiday financial binge is behind us, and we beam with optimism as we face the New Year.
According to Psychology Today, the most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, exercise more, and quit smoking. Have you ever made one of those resolutions?
I sure have, especially when I was younger, and unfortunately, my life never changed because of the resolution. I failed, as most Americans fail.
Now that I’m older and more cynical, I don’t fall for the New Year’s resolution hype. However, I do take time to reflect on the year that’s coming to a close and find areas, small areas, where I can improve my life and my family’s life. I find that by reflecting on the previous year, I am more likely to succeed at the small changes I’d like to see in my life. In turn, those small changes can often lead to more money and better health.
There are many small changes you can make to change your life and improve your health and your finances. Some common ones include:
Prepping Meals In Advance
How many nights have you stared at the refrigerator, not sure what to pack for lunch the next day or not sure what to serve for dinner? I’ve been there too many times, and almost always, not having a plan leads to spending more money by eating out or eating an unhealthy meal that I can throw together quickly.
You can prepare your meals in advance in the way that best suits you. Maybe you’ll take one Sunday a month to make a number of freezer meals for busy nights in the upcoming month. Maybe when you do cook dinner, you’ll double the recipe and put one meal-size portion in the freezer.
Maybe you’ll spend Sunday cutting all of the veggies you’ll need for your meals for the upcoming week. Maybe you’ll make several meals on Sunday so you don’t have to cook dinner on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. You’ll simply reheat what you have in the refrigerator.
It doesn’t matter how you meal plan and prep. Just do it, and you’ll be healthier and save money.
Eating Strictly At Home
This is a tough one, but why not challenge yourself to not eat out as often. If you eat out 3x a week, try to reduce it to 1x. Or, see if you can go a whole month without eating out.
Our family used to eat out several times a week, but now we only eat out a few times a year. Sure, not eating out was hard at first, but now it’s habit, and we actually don’t like to go out very much.
Plus, what you cook at home is likely infinitely healthier than what you eat when dining out, which will have the side effect of improving your health.
Keeping A Budget
If you don’t keep a budget, consider starting. I love using YNAB to manage my budget.
My favorite part is that I can collect historical data over the months to see my spending patterns. Knowing exactly where your money is going and making a plan for how to spend that money will bring you peace, even if you don’t have much money available.
If you prefer using a spreadsheet, others have really enjoyed using the tools from Tiller Money.
Keeping Track Of The Things You Already Have
Is your freezer stocked? If so, when is the last time you took an inventory and made an effort to use up what you have first before buying more?
Is your house cluttered? Clean it up, and you may be surprised what you find. The more organized you are, the better you are able to keep track of your possessions so you don’t end up buying duplicate items, spending unnecessary money.
Developing A Morning Routine
Most of my life, I have gotten up at the last minute possible, then race around trying to get everything done before we head out the door. When I was in my late teens, I developed a morning routine that included exercising for 45 minutes, and I felt great. That habit fell by the wayside, but this fall, I resurrected my morning routine. Now I wake up 1.5 hours before I “have to.” This gives me time to wake up gently, checking my e-mail and favorite blogs, and then saying my prayers, then exercising, and then writing. Having this morning routine in place sets me up for a positive day.
Your morning routine likely won’t look like mine, but if you take the time to decide what will make your morning smooth and help you get in a positive frame of mind, you won’t regret it.
This year, I urge you not to set the typical New Year’s resolutions that usually lead to failure. Instead, find small ways you can improve your life, and you’ll likely reap larger returns such as better finances and health.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? What simple changes could you make to change your life?