We’re heading toward the time of year when thoughts turn to New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’re making some specific financial resolutions: To get out of debt, save for a home, increase your retirement savings, or cut your grocery spending. Those are great ideas, but even if your resolutions aren’t specifically financial, your hard work to improve other areas of your life can have some financial benefits you might not expect. Here are some popular resolutions and their financial benefits.
To lose weight/get in shape: In addition to the pounds you’ll lose, you’ll also notice a smaller grocery bill because you’re not eating as much and you’re staying out of the store to avoid temptation. You’ll probably stop eating out as often because the portions are huge and much of the food is bad for you. You’ll probably give up your vending machine habit and maybe even the daily Starbucks habit. (Have you seen how many calories are in a Frappuccino?) And the biggest savings will come when you get healthier and have fewer doctor visits and lower health care costs.
To de-clutter the house and get organized: De-cluttering can bring in some money if you sell the stuff you no longer want or donate it to charity and take a tax deduction. That’s better than tossing it all in the landfill and getting nothing in return. Being better organized also means that you won’t lose bills under a mountain of junk and forget to pay them, meaning no more late fees or overdraft charges. Take the de-cluttering to it’s maximum limit and you could find yourself able to downsize to a smaller home, saving money on the mortgage, utilities, insurance, and taxes.
To live a greener life: Many truly green products cost a fraction of their commercial counterparts. Making your own cleaners from baking soda and vinegar is not only green, it’s cheap, too. Being green means consuming less, so that’s fewer things you’ll be buying in general. Start bringing your own grocery bags to the store that rewards you for that and you could get up to five cents per bag off your order total. If you go green you may find yourself driving less which means reduced fuel expenses. If you start conserving energy and water as part of your green efforts you’ll see reduced utility bills.
To quit smoking or give up alcohol: In addition to a host of physical benefits which will result in lower health care expenses, you’ll also save a fortune by no longer purchasing those products. Cigarettes and alcohol are expensive to start with and now, in most areas, carry “sin taxes” that can equal the cost of the product.
To learn something new: Maybe you want to learn how to draw, or how to speak a foreign language. Or maybe you want to learn something practical like how to put in a new floor. Almost anything you learn can be turned into a money making or saving venture. If you become fluent in a foreign language, you may be eligible for a raise or promotion at work, or you can take your new skill to an employer that pays more. If you become a good artist, you can sell your work. DIY skills are money savers because you won’t have to hire someone to do your work for you.
To reduce stress: When you’re stressed out, you don’t always take the time to make good decisions or take the right actions. You may eat out too much, not read your bills closely, drink too much, shop to relax, forget important things like due dates, and not take time to deal with small problems before they become big problems. All of these can end up costing you money you wouldn’t have spent if you had been in a more relaxed frame of mind. Plus, less stress equals a healthier you which means lower health care costs. No more trips to the doctor for migraines, hypertension, and other pains associated with stress. As part of your de-stressing efforts, you may also find yourself saying no to expensive things like hosting the office party, putting your kids in tons of activities, or going out every night. Spending more time relaxing at home is good for you and your budget.
Almost any area of self-improvement can have positive financial repercussions because so much of what messes us up physically and emotionally often has its roots in some form of over-consumption, overspending, or taking on too much. Even if you don’t specifically resolve to save money this year, you may find your budget benefiting from whatever resolutions you do make. So what are your New Year’s resolutions and how do you think they will also help your budget?