13 Brilliant Ways To Save Money on Your New Year’s Resolutions

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Diamond Dogs / Getty Images/iStockphoto

About 41% of Americans make a New Year’s resolution, according to Inc. 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 20%, according to Forbes.

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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.

Check out some of the most common New Year’s resolutions and how you can break new ground on your goals without breaking the bank.

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New Year’s Resolution: Quit Smoking

  • Cost: $0 to $11,000+ depending on method chosen

According to a 2011 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 69% 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.

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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, according to Tobacco Free Life. No matter how much it costs you to quit, if you succeed, it’ll mean huge savings over time.

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New Year’s Resolution: Go To the Gym

  • Cost: $696+ per year

Getting in shape is another common resolution that about 44% of people make, according to a 2021 Global Consumer survey. Unfortunately, working out can be costly, especially if you do it at the gym. A typical gym membership generally costs $51 per month, according to Strong Home Gym, and can be much higher for specialty classes such as yoga, CrossFit or dance classes.

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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 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.

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New Year’s Resolution: Go On a Diet

  • Cost: $0 to $5,000+

According to the Vitagene survey, dieting was one of the top five New Year’s resolutions in 2019. 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 Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig charge a weekly fee or charge you for meals, which can cost over $100 per week.

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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.

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.

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New Year’s Resolution: Eat Healthier

  • Cost: varies

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 box of extra-large chocolate muffins.

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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 as fish, fruits and vegetables, 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.

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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. 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.

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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.

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New Year’s Resolution: Get Organized

  • Cost: up to $812+

If you’re currently living with a messy closet, basement and attic filled with boxes upon boxes of who knows what and clutter covering every surface in your house, you might make it your resolution to get organized this year.

One (costly) way to do it is to hire a professional organizer. These professionals can go through your papers to organize your bills or tidy up specific rooms in your house and help you develop a plan to keep them neat. The average cost of a professional organizer is $80 to $140 an hour, with the average project taking between two and 10 hours, according to Home Advisor. The average household typically spends $252 to $812 to complete an organization project, according to the site.

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How To Save Money

It might seem daunting to organize your home — and your life — by yourself, but you can do it if you break it down into small tasks. Start by organizing one aspect of your life — say, your pile of bills and paystubs — or one room, or even one corner of one room, at a time. If you get organized yourself, it’s totally free.

If you do feel like you would benefit from professional help, consider hiring someone for one to two hours to help you get started on your organization project, and then finish it yourself instead of paying them to complete it.

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New Year’s Resolution: Learn a New Language

  • Cost: $99+

Perhaps you want to relearn the language you took in a high school, learn a language that will help you better communicate with clients, or learn a new language just for fun. If you want to learn online, you could buy a year subscription to Rosetta Stone for $96. If you prefer to learn at a physical class, expect to pay around $250 to $300 per term.

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How To Save Money

Before spending money on an online or in-person language course, consider free options. The ad-supported Duolingo app, for example, “gamifies” the language learning process and is free to use.

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New Year’s Resolution: Improve Your Job Skills

  • Cost: up to $7,500+

Whether your career goal for the new year is to get a promotion or land a new job, improving your job skills can make you a more promising candidate.

The cost to acquire this new skill will vary depending on the skill you want to master and whether you enroll online or at a school. Taking continuing education courses at a college can be especially pricey. For example, the cost to enroll at UCLA’s Strategic HR program is $7,500.

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How To Save Money

There are plenty of online classes that can teach you a new skill for free. For example, Coursera offers free courses on various job skills such as financial engineering, fashion management and programming.

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New Year’s Resolution: Read More

  • Cost: around $100

Reading more books is another common resolution. With the cost of the average adult paperback around $9, if you read one book a month, keeping this resolution would cost you $108.

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How To Save Money

There are numerous ways to read books for free. Sign up for a library card at your local library or browse the books available on Google Books. Your local library may even have an app that will allow you to borrow books directly to your devices.  If you have a Kindle and an Amazon Prime membership, you can access many bestsellers completely for free.

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New Year’s Resolution: Practice More Self-Care

  • Cost: up to $1,860+

About 6% of Americans resolved to do something to benefit their self-care in 2019, according to the Vitagene survey. Self-care means different things to different people — for some, this can mean taking regular trips to the spa for facials and massages, and for others, this can simply mean lighting a candle and taking a bath.

Because self-care is different for everybody, the cost will vary, but for those who define it as regular facials and massages, the costs can really add up. The average cost of a facial is $80 and the average cost of a one-hour massage is $75, according to Thervo. If you get one of each every month, that would add up to $1,860 a year.

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How To Save Money

There are many ways to practice self-care for free. In addition to taking candlelight bubble baths, you can sleep in, meditate, brew a cup of tea or write in a daily gratitude journal.

If you do want to make facials a more regular part of your life in 2023, consider doing at-home face masks instead of going to a professional spa each month. And if you want a massage, check Groupon and other discount sites for deals near you.

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New Year’s Resolution: Upgrade Your Wardrobe

  • Cost: $800+

Clothes are a big part of the first impression you make. If you have goals to land a new job or meet a new significant other this year, upgrading your wardrobe can help you start off on a good foot when you first meet your interviewer or date.

Building a new wardrobe on a budget would cost around $800, according to What’s the Cost. A less budget-friendly wardrobe would cost even more.

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How To Save Money

Savvy shoppers never pay full price for clothes and shoes, and you shouldn’t either. Save money on a new wardrobe by shopping the sale rack, going to thrift stores and discount retailers, using coupons and promo codes, and shopping through cash-back sites.

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New Year’s Resolution: Learn To Cook

  • Cost: $45 per hour

Learning to cook might go hand-in-hand with a resolution to eat healthier or to spend less money on dining out. Whatever your reason, learning to cook will likely save you money — and calories — in the long term, but you might need to make an initial investment. According to Lessons.com, the average cooking lesson costs between $25 and $100 an hour, with the average cost being $45 an hour. Keep in mind that if you’re a beginner, you’ll likely need more than one hour’s worth of lessons.

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How To Save Money

Keep an eye out on Groupon and other discount sites for discounts on local cooking classes. Or if you want to go the free route, there are plenty of instructional videos you can find on YouTube.

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Tara Struyk contributed to the reporting for this article.