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The new year brings us a fresh start to improve our current lives, situations, mental and physical health and just to better ourselves. Some resolutions we set for ourselves are so extreme, challenging or expensive in both time and money that they are out of reach before we start them and we end up altering them or quitting completely. The normal things every year involve taking better care of yourself through exercise and eating right. Other resolutions may be to complete a project or start a new one, travel more, visit relatives and friends, volunteer, quit a habit like smoking or drinking, or just cutting back on your expenditures this year.

Eating right

Some of us want to loose weight and therefore stop eating sweets and other foods that aren’t good for us. Just simply stopping buying all the cookies, candy and pop that you normally pick up on your trip to the grocery store or take with your lunch. That saves money right there. If you don’t buy it, you save the money you would have spent and the temptation is not around to eat or drink the calories and sugars you shouldn’t. Watch for sales or coupons on healthy foods and snacks instead.

Exercising

Part of getting healthy is exercising. Look for deals at the local gyms for a reduced-rate trial period or other specials they might offer. You can also get plenty of exercise without having to pay a monthly fee for a membership. Just start walking or jogging. Spend a little and invest in an exercise DVD, buy a jump rope or a mat or simply go up and down stairs regularly. Of course, you should consult your physician before you begin any kind of activity. Maybe your church, local activity center or group get together regularly for age-appropriate exercise classes that won’t cost much if anything.

Quit a habit

If you have habits you want to quit like smoking or drinking, consult your doctor if appropriate, and investigate various options and their costs. There may be group support sessions you can join to help you also. Chances are the options will cost less then the cigarettes or other habits, and be a lot healthier.

Travel more

Some of us are not afforded the time or money in which to travel places we would like or as often as we’d like. If you have the time, consider traveling on the off season (that would depend on where and how you are going). There are definitely different rates for hotels, cruises and admissions depending on the time of year. Do your research before booking your next vacation to see the less-expensive time to go. Maybe you want to visit relatives and friends more, perhaps you can as long as you have the available time and it works in your budget. If airfare, hotels, food and gas are too expensive for you to afford this year, then plan to go next year and put away some money every month to make it easier on your budget.

Volunteer

Think of ways you can be more thoughtful or understanding toward others. Volunteer and help those in need and show you care. Start listening more then reacting or challenging those you talk with. Participate more in activities that interest rather then just sitting at home alone. No matter how old you are, there are always ways you can change how you act and your attitude toward others by giving, caring and being compassionate. Challenge yourself to have a better attitude toward life and live your life to the fullest by being courteous and kind. Think of ways you can be more thoughtful or understanding toward others. But be sure to love your family and friends you as if there is no tomorrow and you will feel that you have lived your life the best you can.

Projects

If your resolution is a project that you’ve put off doing or completing, then assess what tools and items you will need from start to finish. Before you buy anything, check to see what you already have at home – you might surprise yourself and find more than you thought you had. If you need tools, before you buy them (for maybe this one-time use) check with a friend and ask to borrow it if it would not be too much of an imposition. Be sure when you give the tool back that it is clean and in working order and be sure to thank them appropriately (by maybe making them something in return). If you need an item or items to complete your project, compare prices at various stores we have in the area before you pay your hard-earned money. Don’t buy more than what you are going to need unless the store will take returns on unused purchases and refund your money. It may take you a while to finish your project, but you will get the satisfaction from your completed work.

Cutting back

First of all, stop buying the things you want or think you have to have and only buy the things you need, including items at the grocery store. If you buy something at the grocery store just because it was on sale and you might use it sometime, chances are you will eventually have to throw it away because it becomes expired. Check the expiration dates on all food items and make sure you will use them when they are really fresh. Secondly, clip coupons or put them digitally on your rewards card for items you will use. In the Sunday Herald and News there generally are coupon sections full of useful and money saving coupons. Thirdly, watch the store ad for sales, store coupons and specials – but be sure to know the time period they are offered. And lastly, ask for discounts when you shop, go out to eat, or are out for entertainment – they might be running a special or have a savings for your age or employment group (like seniors or military).

Whatever you decide that you want for the new year, think it through carefully, make a plan and follow through — your mental and physical well being will be better for it.