4 New Year’s Resolutions That Will Boost Your Net Worth
It’s that time of year, people: New Year’s resolution time. I’m not a big resolution maker, myself, but maybe I would be if I could recognize some financial benefits to making resolutions. Here’s a list of common New Year’s Resolutions that also have financial benefits you may want to consider. Please chime in in the comments with ideas for financially beneficial resolutions that I’ve overlooked.
- Get regular exercise.
Not only does exercise offer an opportunity to save money on health insurance premiums and less prescriptions and other medical costs, the fact is that you’ll also have less time to spend at the mall if you’re working out every day. But the biggest reason I put “getting regular exercise” as a resolution that will help your financial picture is because of the inspirational and motivational effect that regular exercise can have on your professional life. Whenever I feel like I’m out of ideas or energy and have lost the motivation to work, I find that exercise always gives me two or three new ideas, plus a boost in energy to get those ideas executed. This is really the only reason I keep exercising, to be honest: for years, I dreaded exercising because it was all about weight loss and appearance, but now that I’ve noticed an improvement in my work ethic as a result of exercise, I’m far more committed to making it a priority. Sure, you’ll feel like crap while you’re actually doing the exercise, but once you’re done, you’ll be energized and inspired to tackle the rest of your day.
- Quit smoking.
According to the American Lung Association, the number one reason people list for wanting to quit smoking is to save money. This is either really encouraging information or a really depressing commentary, depending upon your perspective, but there is no question that a pack-a-day smoker can save at least $2,000 a year by quitting today. And then there’s the added money you’ll save on breath-freshening products and Febreeze to get the smoke stink off your clothes and furniture (if you even bother with this anymore), and you’ll probably save a ton of money (as much as 25%) on health insurance and even more (as much as 50%) on life insurance. When I quit smoking (for the last time) in 2001, I saved enough to join the really expensive gym instead of the crappy one I had been going to. Sure, it would have been a better plan to bank that extra cash, but I was young and frivilous, what can I say?
- Quit Drinking.
Drinking is an expensive habit: alcohol can be expensive, cabs to and from drinking establishments can be expensive, time lost from work due to drinking too much is the most expensive of all. Do you ever wonder why waiters ask you for your drink order right after you sit down at a restaurant? Because alcohol is how they make all their money. (Trust me: I know what I’m talking about after 8 years of saying, “Diet Coke, please.”) Now, I almost always hesitate to add in a thought on the cost of drinking given my history, but the fact remains that if you drink with any kind of regularity, you’re spending a big chunk of change on it. And, if you’re looking to save some money, this might be the place to cut back.
- Watch less TV.
Not only does TV encourage you to spend more money via direct advertising, there have been some studies that indicate that you can spend as much as $200 more per year for every additional hour of TV you watch per week.
According to Boston College sociologist Juliet Schor, “Television viewing results in an upscaling of desire. And that in turn leads people to buy.” Her study found that every additional hour of TV viewing per week boosts spending by roughly $200 a year. So a handful of sitcoms and a reality series or two can cost you more than a grand a year. Forget keeping up with the Joneses; now people are struggling to keep up with the Kardashians. (Source: Money Magazine via Consciously Frugal via: Fiscal Fizzle.)
So watch less: it shouldn’t be hard, since Heroes has gone so far south this season that even I’m not watching it anymore, all of the Law & Order episodes are recycled from sixteen seasons ago that I still remember, and the producers of Survivor have managed to chisel out any originality from the show as finely as Jeff Probst’s dimples. One interesting tidbit from the above article: you are more likely to see drastic increases in spending when you find yourself watching shows that focus on an affluent lifestyle (whether “real” or fictional). In other words, if you’re watching TV, you’re probably going to do better watching a documentary about people in India than you will watching Desperate Housewives, because the documentary is not going to spur your desire to conspicuously consume.