Updated January 26, 2014

Keep Your Resolutions and You May Save Some Cash

Factor in money and you may actually lose weight, quit smoking, or limit your alcohol intake

Do you need a little more incentive to stick with your New Year's resolutions? At CreditDonkey.com, we always have cost savings on the brain, and that's exactly what you can do if this year, finally, you keep your January promises.

We’ve come up with a list of the most popular New Year’s resolutions and present the cost of each one. So if you’re on the brink of breaking yours, think again...and you may actually save some cash, along with your waistline.

Eat Healthy Food

Average amount Americans spent on food in 2012: $6,599

In 2012, Americans spent about $3,921 on food at home and $2,678 on food away from home. Choosing to eat less pizza, fast food, and sugary sweets is a worthy goal for your health, and you could save some money if you do it right. Snack on in-season fruits instead of chocolate. Cook a healthy meal at home instead of going out for a high-priced burger. This resolution will be cost effective only if you take steps to ensure you stay on budget. Always make a grocery list, consider cutting back on your meat consumption, look for bulk grains, and make large meals with leftovers in mind. In the end, your health – and pocketbook – will thank you for it.

Drink Less Alcohol

Average amount Americans spent on alcohol in 2012: $451

This figure, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, outstrips the average amount spent on non-alcoholic beverages in 2012, which was just $370. Giving up alcohol would save American consumers about $1 for every $114 spent. So if you’re resolved to cut back your alcohol intake this year, because you’re worried about carbs or calories or the way you act when you drink, use the potential savings as a carrot to keep you sober more often.

Get a Better Job

Average amount of jobs U.S. employers added from August through November 2013: 204,000

This is a worthy resolution that doesn’t cost much (unless you’re relocating) but could increase your earning potential. Consider the following factors when deciding on whether to make a job move: job quality, growth prospects, money, and mental stimulation. Keep in mind that 10.9 million Americans were unemployed as of November 2013, and 762,000 are discouraged – they’re not even looking for work because they believe jobs for them don’t exist. So be wary of just quitting your job and hoping for the best, but do take steps this year to set yourself up for a better job down the road. For example, have a heart-to-heart with your boss, go back to school at night, or spend your free time prowling online job boards and networking.

Lose Weight

Average monthly cost of a gym membership: $55

Here’s a resolution that may end up costing you money up front. But if you are committed to being active – and not necessarily losing weight to appease someone else – it may be worth the cost. Do the math: how many times will you truly go to the gym per month? If you go at least twice a week, it costs about $7 a trip for a $55-per-month membership. That sound good to you? See if you can do a trial month before signing up for a longer commitment. The longer commitment you give to the gym, the more likely they will give you a break. But the cost savings are worth it only if you go. Otherwise, keep your workout at home by investing in a pair of dumbbells and some running sneakers.

Manage Debt

Average debt for households with credit cards: over $14,000

U.S. households carry over $14,000 in credit card debt. That’s not even including all the other debt they have, like mortgages, cars, and student loans. But credit card debt tends to carry the most burdensome cost because of high interest rates. Making a dent in your credit card debt is always a worthy goal. Make it an even better one by vowing to never carry a balance again and setting yourself to, eventually, pay off your bills each month. Read CreditDonkey’s take on why it’s never a good idea to pay just the minimum balance, and make a renewed effort to tackle your debt this year.

Quit Smoking

Average amount Americans spend on tobacco products: $332

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 43.8 million adults smoke in the U.S. In recent years, as cigarette taxes have skyrocketed, so has the cost of smoking – it’s not just a health issue. If you’re thinking of quitting, call your state’s toll-free telephone quit line. Find out more information at www.naquitline.net.

Save Money

Average amount Americans spent on entertainment in 2012: $2,605

In 2012, Americans spent this amount on activities such as going to the movies, a theme park, or a concert. One surefire way reach your savings goals is to take a hard look at your entertainment budget: Are you going to movies you don’t even like? Are you paying recurring charges on subscriptions you don’t use? Are you taking your kids out to costly events every week when you could spend more quality family time playing board games? We’re not saying to cut fun times out of your life; just cut back and use some of those savings toward strengthening your financial health.

Give Back

Average cost to a volunteer for spending time at a charity: $0

Companies in recent years have made a show of freeing up their employees for one workday to volunteer at the charity of their choice. The average amount Americans spend on doing these activities is just 2.1 hours. If your work offers you this break, it would cost you nothing but your own personal time. Check out VolunteerMatch.org to find a cause that interests you in your area.

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