About 40 percent of Americans make a New Year’s resolution, according to Forbes. But what you probably don’t hear — and maybe don’t want to hear — is how few people actually succeed at their resolutions. That number is about 8 percent.
There are a lot of reasons why resolutions fall by the wayside, but one thing that shouldn’t derail your resolutions is how much they cost. Here are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions and how you can break new ground on your goals without breaking the bank.
New Year’s Resolution: Quit Smoking
Cost: $0 to $3,000 depending on method chosen
According to data from the U.S. government, about 70 percent of smokers want to quit. The cost of quitting can vary widely; going “cold turkey” is free, while products like nicotine replacement therapies, behavioral therapy and hypnosis can bring the cost into the hundreds or thousands of dollars.
How to Save Money: Many common methods of quitting smoking, such as scaling back gradually or joining an online support group, are available for free. If cost is a concern for you, try these free options first before moving to more costly alternatives.
But don’t get too hung up on cost. Smoking a pack a day costs upwards of $2,000 per year. No matter how much it costs you to quit, if you succeed, it’ll mean huge savings over time.
New Year’s Resolution: Go to the Gym
Cost: $750+ per year
Getting in shape is another common resolution that about 10 percent of people make. Unfortunately, working out can be costly, especially if you do it at the gym. A typical gym membership generally costs at least $60 per month and can be much higher for specialty activities such as yoga, Crossfit or dance classes.
How to Save Money: Gym memberships can be expensive, but getting fit doesn’t have to be.
Try heading outside for a long walk or jog or throwing a Frisbee for your dog at the park. You can also incorporate exercise into your daily life by walking short distances instead of driving and doing simple exercises while you watch TV. Finally, there are many types of free fitness videos available online to help keep you motivated.
New Year’s Resolution: Go on a Diet
Cost: $0 to $5,000+
According to Reuters, losing weight is in the top five most popular New Year’s resolutions every year. Unfortunately, many people get caught up in going on a pricey diet to help them lose those extra pounds.
Cutting back on food costs nothing (and will actually reduce your grocery bill), while popular diet programs such as Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers charge a fee and may also include healthy, portion controlled meals and snacks, which can cost upward of $100 per week.
How to Save Money: The reason diets that include food are often successful is that they do the portion control for you. But as with any convenience food, dieters will pay a very high price for this convenience.
If you are looking to follow a diet plan, consider making your own portion-controlled meals by purchasing a simple kitchen scale and some measuring cups. Then you can download an app or use an online calorie counter to create healthy, figure-friendly meals for a fraction of the cost.
New Year’s Resolution: Eat Healthier
Eating and becoming healthier is a common resolution. The problem arises with many peoples’ perception of what’s healthy.
Organic foods, prepared health foods and all the drinks, snacks and supplements you might find in a health food store or organic food market can be very expensive. This can be enough to send just about anyone straight out the door to the nearest Costco for an economy-sized flat of extra-large chocolate muffins.
How to Save Money: The good news is you can eat a very healthy diet without venturing beyond a regular grocery store. In fact, if you stick to buying things that have one or very few ingredients, such meat, vegetables and dairy products, you’ll be packing one of the healthiest and least expensive grocery carts possible.
Food retailers make their money on processed foods, which are marked up for their convenience, packaging and advertising. The apples and cabbages get much less fanfare, which is exactly why you should be buying them instead — and in the least processed form possible.
New Year’s Resolution: Get Out of Debt
Cost: $0 to a monthly fee
Getting out of debt is a common resolution, but it isn’t an easy one in a tough economy like the one we’re facing now. So, while kicking that debt soon will save you tons of money in interest, it can cost you if you enlist the help of a credit counselor to do it. Some counselors work for free, while others charge fees (often monthly) for their services.
How to Save Money: For those who struggle with budgeting and don’t even know how to start paying down their debt, a counselor may be a good option. Just be sure that if you go this route, you check with the Better Business Bureau, the local consumer protection agency and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling to find legitimate counseling agencies in your area.
However, remember that becoming your own credit counselor is free and learning the ropes yourself is not such a bad thing. After all, once you manage to pay off your debt, it will be up to you to use your new financial skills to ensure you stay that way.
New Year’s resolutions can be hard for a variety of reasons, but money doesn’t have to enter into the equation. In fact, you can accomplish many resolutions at no cost at all. Plus, if you achieve your resolutions to become healthier–whether physically or financially–it’s an investment that will pay dividends throughout the new year.