small changes en-US 25 Bite-Sized Money Resolutions to Make 2015 Your Biggest Year Yet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-bite-sized-money-resolutions-to-make-2015-your-biggest-year-yet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="dollar bills 2015" title="dollar bills 2015" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's <em>that</em> time of year &mdash; when everyone's telling you that your New Year's resolutions can help you lose 50 pounds by beach season, revolutionize your career, and save enough to buy a Mercedes with cash by December. But despite our best intentions, almost none of us is going to become a brand-new person the moment 2015 dawns.</p> <p>However, we will have a little fresh start momentum on our side, so why not pick a handful of bite-sized financial resolutions from this party mix? If you pull them off by the end of January, you can always come back for seconds.</p> <h2>1. Don't Pay Any Late Fees</h2> <p>If you are prone to paying bills late, set up auto payments on all accounts, for at least the minimum payment due.</p> <h2>2. Read Your Credit Card Bill Every Month</h2> <p>You may be surprised at how many things you find &mdash; recurring billing for services you no longer use, missed refunds, overcharges, or, if you're unlucky, outright credit card fraud. At the very least, it's an opportunity to think about your spending for the past month and adjust your plans for future spending.</p> <h2>3. Start an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>If you don't have an emergency fund, now is the time to start one. Set up a new savings account and auto transfer a regular amount from every paycheck. Even if it's only $10 a month, you'll be on your way to more peace of mind and a lower chance of running up credit card debt when emergencies happen.</p> <h2>4. Participate in Your Company's Retirement Plan</h2> <p>Especially if your company offers matching dollars, this is a one-time chore that will pay off for the rest of your life.</p> <h2>5. Negotiate With a Credit Card Company</h2> <p>When you see an annual fee hit your bill, or if you slip up and incur a late fee (or even if you just want a lower interest rate), pick up the phone and call your credit card customer service line. If you've held the card for a few years, and ask nicely, you may be surprised how easy it is to get your way.</p> <h2>6. Find a Credit Card With Better Perks</h2> <p>If you use credit responsibly, you might as well be getting something in exchange for all the fees you're earning for the company. Use a credit card comparison engine to find the best <a href="">cash-back</a>, <a href="">miles</a>, or other benefit offers for you.</p> <h2>7. Cut Back on One Spending Category</h2> <p>When you read that credit card bill, take notice of any categories where your spending is large, and ask yourself if you could cut back on it. Restaurant lunches are low-hanging fruit for many people.</p> <h2>8. Start Using Coupons</h2> <p>You don't have to go all extreme couponing to benefit. You can start by browsing the coupon <a href="">database at Hot Coupon World</a> to find coupons for the items you regularly buy.</p> <h2>9. Sign Up for a Budgeting Website</h2> <p>My financial planner recommended <a href=""></a>, which pulls in info from your bank accounts and credit cards, so you only need look at the dashboard to see where your money went.</p> <h2>10. Find One Service Provider With Better Rates</h2> <p>Maybe you can switch cable or Internet providers, or try a different lawn care service, or start bringing your cat to a vet that doesn't have a fancy waiting room. Whatever it is, if it's a service you use more than once a year, the savings will add up once you switch.</p> <h2>11. Check Your Bank Account for Fees</h2> <p>You might notice a big one like an overdraft fee, but you might also miss smaller fees that banks sneak in. Some accounts start tacking on monthly fees if your balance falls below a certain threshold or if you have too many transactions per month. Take five minutes to review the last several months' statements online to make sure you're not getting nickel and dimed &mdash; and if you are, call your bank to see if there's a way to avoid future fees.</p> <h2>12. Stop Using Out-Of-Network ATMs</h2> <p>It may only be $2 or $3 here and there, but when you think about it, paying $2 to access $50 is forfeiting 4% of your money! Try to plan ahead for your cash needs, but if you find yourself without cash and far from your own bank, hit up a grocery store or drugstore and make a small purchase with your debit card, and then ask for cash back.</p> <h2>13. Stop Doing One Thing That's Not Worth the Time</h2> <p>Whether it's painting your own house or an extra evening job at a low pay rate, do a little cost/benefit analysis and figure out how much time you've been spending on that activity. Then ask yourself how much you enjoy or hate it. You may realize that you could be doing something else with that time that would save or earn more &mdash; or that it's better to set aside that time for a more rewarding non-financial activity.</p> <h2>14. Schedule Budget Meetings With Your Partner for the Rest of the Year</h2> <p>Pick up that stiff new 2015 calendar, and before it gets crowded with other appointments, ink in monthly, bimonthly, or semi-annual &quot;money dates,&quot; where you sit down without distractions to review your bank account balance, bills, financial goals, and spending habits. Having a time set aside to discuss money issues can prevent a lot of fights. If it sounds too boring, schedule a real date right after the money appointment so you have something to look forward to once you get your ducks in a row.</p> <h2>15. Audit Your Electricity Use</h2> <p>For less than $20, you can pick up an <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00009MDBU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=RU3V2OHCL3ZQPJTG">electricity monitor</a> to find out which of your appliances or devices is a power hog. Based on that info, you can change your habits or replace outdated appliances for extra savings.</p> <h2>16. Try Buying One Thing Second-Hand</h2> <p>If you have never considered Craigslist, garage sales, eBay, or thrift stores, give it a whirl this year. Great first second-hand purchases include: a Halloween costume, a pair of ice skates, a bread machine, or a bicycle. Why? All of these tend to be used once or infrequently before their owners don't want them any more.</p> <h2>17. Try a Price Comparison Engine</h2> <p>Next time you need to make a substantial purchase, research prices first on <a href="">PriceGrabber</a>, <a href="">Pricewatch</a> or another resource before buying.</p> <h2>18. Sign Up for a Rebate Site</h2> <p><a href="">Ebates</a> or <a href="">Mr. Rebates</a> will not only get you cash back on online purchases, but they often provide coupon codes as well.</p> <h2>19. Cooperate With Friends Instead of Paying for Something</h2> <p>Whether it's trading child or pet care instead of paying a sitter, exchanging airport drop-offs to save cab fare, or borrowing and lending items that only get used occasionally, you can save a lot with a little help from your friends. You may have to offer first to get the ball rolling, but make it clear when you babysit or drive that you wouldn't mind getting the same favor in return.</p> <h2>20. Always Check the Daily Deal Sites Before You Go Out</h2> <p>Going to a museum, restaurant, or to the roller derby? Just a quick search of <a href="">Groupon</a> and <a href="">LivingSocial</a> might save you 50% of the cost.</p> <h2>21. Drive Less</h2> <p>Even with lower gas prices, you still have to pay for parking, tolls, and wear and tear on your vehicle every time you opt to drive somewhere. With ride-sharing services, public transit, and bike sharing programs, it pays to ask whether there is a cheaper way to get to your destination &mdash; and it will probably be friendlier to the planet as well.</p> <h2>22. Consider a Low-Cost Cell Phone Plan</h2> <p>If you want a high-end phone, a two-year contract at a high monthly rate is probably in the cards. But if you can live with a midrange smartphone &mdash; which by the way will use many of the same apps and texts and calls people just like an iPhone &mdash; consider paying cash up front and signing up for a low-cost provider such as Virgin Mobile, T-Mobile, or Boost.</p> <h2>23. Set Up Quarterly Tax Payments</h2> <p>If you owed last year, your future self will thank you if you set that up right now.</p> <h2>24. Give Mindfully</h2> <p>Don't just throw your charity money into the pot of whoever happens to be in front of the grocery store. Use <a href="">GuideStar</a> or <a href="">Charity Navigator</a> to evaluate potential charities.</p> <h2>25. Make an Appointment With a Financial Advisor</h2> <p>No matter how old you are, a check-up with an advisor can help you make decisions that could have a big impact on your entire life. Fee-only planners charge by the hour and do not receive commissions for any investments they recommend.</p> <p><em>Have you succeeded in implementing any small financial resolutions? Tell us about it in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">39 Mindless Ways You&#039;re Wasting Money in Every Part of Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">5 Ways to Make Retail Therapy Good for You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Successful New Year&#039;s Resolutions Have This One Thing in Common — Does Yours?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Credit Cards Personal Development Shopping money habits new years resolutions small changes Tue, 30 Dec 2014 12:00:11 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1274765 at 21 Teeny-Tiny Ways to Save <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/21-teeny-tiny-ways-to-save" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Biking family" title="Biking family" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="120" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>They say it&rsquo;s the little things in life that have the biggest impact &mdash; and that&rsquo;s quite true in the context of money matters. While making massive changes to the way you spend can help boost your bottom line, so too can minute measures that you may not have considered. Starting today, keep more cash in your pocket by instituting these teeny tiny ways to save. (See also: <a href="">37 Savings Changes You&nbsp;Can Make Today</a>)</p> <h3>1. Sign Up for the Keep the Change Program</h3> <p>The Keep the Change program is exclusive to Bank of America, but there are other banks that have similar programs that round every debit-card purchase up to the nearest dollar and deposit that amount of change into your savings account. If you use your debit card frequently &mdash; I sure do &mdash; the savings can add up quickly.</p> <h3>2. Dress Warmer Around the House When It&rsquo;s Cold</h3> <p>No need to turn up the heat when there&rsquo;s a nip in the air. Head to your closet and put on socks, sweatpants, and a nice warm top to stay cozy instead of cranking up the thermostat.</p> <h3>3. Use Natural Light Whenever Possible</h3> <p>During the daytime, rely on natural light around your home and office when you&rsquo;re working. You&rsquo;ll save electricity, of course, but you&rsquo;ll also prevent your bulbs from burning out faster.</p> <h3>4. Eat More Leftovers</h3> <p>Don&rsquo;t let perfectly <a href="">good food go to waste</a> by stuffing it in a plastic container to rot in the fridge. Eat the leftovers for lunch or incorporate them into a new dish the next night.</p> <h3>5. Raise Your Insurance Deductibles</h3> <p>If you raise your insurance deductible, your premium will go down. Of course, then you&rsquo;ll have a high deductible, but if you're confident that you won&rsquo;t get into an accident anytime soon, this money-saving idea can save you a nice chunk of change.</p> <h3>6. Pay Down Credit Card Debt</h3> <p>If you have a credit card, stay on top of the payments &mdash; and try to pay them down quickly &mdash; so you&rsquo;re not charged the high interest rate that&rsquo;s attached to them.</p> <h3>7. Walk or Bike Instead of Driving</h3> <p>Put the car in park and travel by foot or bike to run errands that are near enough. Even once or twice a week will preserve a generous amount of gas throughout the year.</p> <h3>8. Bundle Your Media Services</h3> <p>If you don&rsquo;t already have a package deal for cable, phone, and Internet, call your provider to inquire about a bundle. Savings for bundling all three products could result in a decent reduction on your monthly bill.</p> <h3>9. Use Your FSA If Your Employer Offers It&nbsp;</h3> <p>If your workplace offers a <a href="">Flex Spending Account</a>, take advantage of it for co-pays and other eligible medical expenses and health products.</p> <h3>10. Use a Grocery Store Club Card</h3> <p>Many grocery store reward loyal customers with exclusive savings that are only given to those shoppers with club cards. It only takes a minute to sign up, and you&rsquo;ll see just how valuable it is on the bottom of your receipt.</p> <h3>11. Open the Windows When It&rsquo;s Cool Out</h3> <p>Instead of blasting the air conditioner or fan, open the windows to cool off if the weather outside is conducive.</p> <h3>12. Examine Your Bills Closely</h3> <p>This is one of my favorites on the list because so many people take their bills for granted. The billing entities (probably) aren&rsquo;t trying to rip you off on purpose, but mistakes happen, whether it&rsquo;s human error or a computer glitch. Take a look at your bills closely each month to make sure that all charges are correct. If something seems to be off, inquire about it &mdash; it could mean more money in your pocket.</p> <h3>13. Brew Your Own Coffee</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;re a frequent coffee-shop patron, you&rsquo;ll save money when you switch to a regular regimen of home-brewed coffee. Just be sure you're making the appropriate amount of coffee for those drinking it; don&rsquo;t brew a whole pot if you only intend to drink a cup or two. You&rsquo;ll also lessen your carbon footprint by investing in a reusable travel cup &mdash; I prefer these barista-approved <a href="">KeepCups</a> &mdash; which will save you a few cents off your coffee shop purchase on those sporadic days when you choose to indulge.</p> <h3>14. Unplug Electronics and Appliances When Not in Use</h3> <p>&quot;Vampire voltage&quot; is when electricity is being consumed by electronics that are plugged into an outlet but not in use. It&rsquo;s called that because it&rsquo;s literally sucking money out of your pocket. When you&rsquo;re not using an electrical item, unplug it to avoid being bled dry.</p> <h3>15. Record Movies on Your DVR</h3> <p>Have you noticed that there aren&rsquo;t many good DVDs available lately? Unhappy with the current rental selection, I&rsquo;ve starting scrolling future screenings on my premiums channels to find movies that I&rsquo;d like to watch later. When they're in my queue on a Friday night, I can skip the potential On Demand or <a href="">DVD kiosk</a> purchase and put a few bucks back in my budget.</p> <h3>16. Reuse Paper</h3> <p>Every sheet of paper has two sides. If you can use the other for notes or for printing, do it. That&rsquo;s less waste in the recycling bin, fewer trips to the office store, and a savings of up to 50% on paper each year if you make this a habitual practice.</p> <h3>17. Visit the Library for New Books</h3> <p>When you&rsquo;re in the mood for a new book, visit your local library (yes, these still exist) instead of purchasing a hard copy or digital download.</p> <h3>18. Pay Your Bills Online</h3> <p>If you haven&rsquo;t noticed, stamps aren&rsquo;t cheap. You can save a few dollars a month on stamps and a few dollars a year on envelopes by paying your bills online instead of through the regular mail.</p> <h3>19. Just Say No to Newspapers and Magazines</h3> <p>We live in an age where information is disseminated almost immediately. By the time those print editions come out, someone in cyberspace has already let the cat out of the bag. Drop the newspaper and mag subscriptions &mdash; and avoid them in the checkout lanes &mdash; to save money.</p> <h3>20. Save Loose Change</h3> <p>Put the change in your pocket in a jug at the end of each day. Every few months or so, <a href="">roll the change</a> and either deposit it in your savings account or treat yourself to something special.</p> <h3>21. Buy Store Brand Food</h3> <p>Switching just one of your name-brand favorites to the store brand will save you anywhere from a few cents to a dollar or so. Imagine how much you can save if you switch several.</p> <p><em>What other small ways can you think or to save a few bucks here and there? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">37 Brilliant Ways to Reuse an Empty Milk Jug</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">18 Clever Ways to Reuse Your Plastic Shopping Bags</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">For a Better Relationship With Money, Make Plans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Hand-me-down Cell Phones</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Old Stuff: How to Kindly Receive and Reuse</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living easy ways to save reduce electricity reuse small changes Tue, 21 Aug 2012 10:24:40 +0000 Mikey Rox 952260 at For a Better Relationship With Money, Make Plans <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/for-a-better-relationship-with-money-make-plans" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman planning" title="woman planning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Making a plan is one of the most simple and effective things you can do &mdash; not just for living frugally, but for living life. There are few great things that were not made with some sort of plan.</p> <p>I'll admit that talking about planning's awesomeness is easy for me. I am a natural planner. It's a quality that has both benefits and problems. On one hand, I love that it helps me get things done. But I also have to work to accept changes when a plan is modified for reasons beyond my control. I get jealous of people who easily adjust to the unexpected. (See also: <a href="">4 Tips for Living Spontaneously on the Cheap</a>)</p> <p>There are benefits to both sides, of course &mdash; and by learning to balance planning and spontaneity, we can all save more money and live better.</p> <h2>Make Small&nbsp;Plans</h2> <p>A lot of the common frugal living advice &mdash; bring your own lunch, don't go to the coffee shop &mdash; these are small plans.&nbsp;You have to plan ahead to buy the food for lunch, and plan the time to put that food together. When you make lots of little plans like this, the savings can really add up. And there are thousands of ways to save money with small plans, including:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Buying products when they're at their cheapest</a></li> <li><a href="">Making your own coffee</a></li> <li><a href="">Preparing home-cooked meals</a></li> <li><a href="">Using daily deals vouchers</a></li> <li><a href="">Searching for the right travel deals</a></li> </ul> <p>...and many more.</p> <h2>Make Big Plans</h2> <p>Big plans often require, well, big planning. They can take time not just to achieve, but to simply plan. And making big plans can be challenging &mdash; I mean, some of the most well-paid people out there are essentially master planners, such as architects, engineers, and so on.</p> <p>But big plans also have the biggest payouts. Big plans are what make the most epic movies, the tallest skyscrapers, and elite athletes. These plans take time and commitment.</p> <p>In the world of personal finance, big plans are things like your budget and the steps to achieve your finance-related life goals &mdash; things like buying a house, sending your child to college, or creating a submarine that honks its horn and tailgates James Cameron as he <a href="">travels to the bottom of Challenger Deep</a> (OK, that's not really a goal I have, but I just think it would be hilarious &mdash; and cost a lot of money). Big plans are there to inspire you, remind you of what you're working towards, and give you concrete steps to reach those goals. And when you feel off track, big plans are there to help you get back.</p> <p>When it comes to saving money, big plans are like a calzone, with lots of small plans making up the delicious filling. If you already have all those small plans prepped, making that big plan is pretty easy.</p> <p>You might think that you can start saving more without a plan. And maybe, <em>maybe</em> you can. But honestly? It's not likely.</p> <h2>Make <em>Realistic</em> Plans</h2> <p>Whether your plans are big or small, they're not going to benefit you much if you can't stick to them. And I don't mean that in the sense that someone, somewhere could stick to these plans; I mean that <em>you</em> could stick to them. There is a person on this planet who is able to run faster than everyone else. But no matter how much you train, it's probably not going to be you&nbsp;(sorry, sport).</p> <p>Make plans that challenge you, but are doable in your situation. If your Mondays are absolutely crazy, and you simply can't make your own lunch that day, buy lunch on Mondays and bring it in every other day of the week.</p> <p>When your plans become habits, make more plans.</p> <h2>Don't Worship&nbsp;Plans</h2> <p>Plans are great.&nbsp;I'd even argue that they're necessary. But don't consider your plans to be holy word written in stone. We will always get curveballs thrown at us. And fastballs. And palmballs. And Vulcan changeups (which <a href="">Wikipedia</a> informs me is a delightfully named type of pitch).</p> <p>This is where spontaneity comes in.&nbsp;It can feel difficult, or even impossible to accept a change in a plan. But that doesn't mean it's a time to give up. Rather, it's a time to adjust what you're doing, move forward, and stay open to new opportunities.</p> <p><em>Your turn, readers </em>&mdash;<em> are you a planner?&nbsp;What role does planning take in your life?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Ways to Tidy Up Your Finances Before the Holidays</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">9 Things Football Teaches Us About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Tactics of the rich</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Not the sort of person who ...</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">What I&#039;ve been trying to say</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living money and relationship planning small changes Fri, 20 Apr 2012 10:36:11 +0000 Meg Favreau 922409 at 25 Healthy Changes You Can Make Today <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-healthy-changes-you-can-make-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Woman with a flower in her hair" title="Woman with a flower in her hair" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="137" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sometimes, it's the little things that make the biggest impact on our lives. Whether you want to lose weight or feel more energetic, you don't have to go on a drastic diet or guzzle vitamin drinks. Just make some small adjustments to your daily regimen and see how your life is transformed. (See also: <a href="">25 Frugal Changes&nbsp;You&nbsp;Can Make Today</a>)</p> <h2>1. Walk More</h2> <p><img width="605" height="484" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Gustavo Veríssimo</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>Getting more exercise is tough for many of us, but walking is your first step to being healthier. Walking offers some of the cheapest, lowest-impact exercise. The hardest part is motivating yourself, so try to find something that helps you move. Can you walk to and from the store? How about walking for the sake of practicing photography? Does music help you keep moving? Is it easier to walk through a park or around the city? Find whatever works for you, and start strolling. Or, if walking isn't your style, <a href="">find another form of fitness</a> that works for you.</p> <h2>2. Eat Slower/Less</h2> <p><img width="350" height="335" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Ernesto Andrade</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>How many of us sit in front of various screens (computer, television, iPad) and scarf our food down mindlessly? Eating slowly, concentrating on your food, and savoring each bite will help you eat more slowly, which helps you feel full on less food. <a href="">Mindful eating</a> might sound like some sort of hippie-dippy practice, but it's actually something that anyone can benefit from. If you can spare 20 minutes for each meal of the day, chew your food carefully and slowly, and put your fork down in between bites, you will find yourself feeling better, less full, and more energized in a few days.</p> <h2>3. Drink More Water</h2> <p><img width="350" height="316" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Jeremy Keith</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>The news media is always blabbing on about how no one drinks enough water. If this were really true, we'd all be dying of dehydration. But it is worth checking to see if you are getting enough clean water to drink. A quick test &mdash; the pee test! Is your urine almost as clear as water? No? Then you're not drinking enough water.</p> <h2>4. Drink Less Alcohol</h2> <p><img width="350" height="467" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Mecookie</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>But wine is so good for you, right? Well, yes and no. Wine does help thin the blood and is good for your heart health, but wine contains sugars that, if not burned off, can fatten your liver. And having a <a href="">fatty liver</a> can contribute to all kinds of alcohol-related health problems. There are a number of other problems associated with drinking booze, including poor sleep habits, dehydration, memory loss, and of course, one-night stands with horrifically ugly people.</p> <h2>5. Drink More Wine</h2> <p><img width="605" height="404" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Joe Shlabotnik</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>Wait, didn't I just say to not drink wine? Yes, I did, but I'm going to contradict myself. We've all heard over the years about <a href="">wine's health benefits</a> and how moderate consumption of wine can reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Combine a daily glass of wine with a brisk, hour-long walk (see #1), and you should be able to burn off the calories in the wine.</p> <h2>6. Meditate/Breathe Deeply</h2> <p><img width="350" height="331" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>vicki watkins</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>Taking a short break twice a day to concentrate your mind on a single subject (while breathing slowly and deeply) can help <a href="">reduce stress and anxiety</a> and lower your blood pressure. You don't have to chant if it makes you feel uncomfortable; in fact, the actual &quot;spiritual&quot; mantras don't have any effect on the effectiveness of meditation.</p> <p>Doctors at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City have run trials for pre-surgery cardiovascular patients in which patients received guided meditation and yoga instruction, among other New Age-y sounding benefits. Patients who <a href=",9171,1004086,00.html">used meditation tapes pre-surgery</a> recovered faster than patients who opted not to use any of the relaxation techniques, whether or not the tapes contained &quot;real&quot; mantras (some contained relaxing-sounding gibberish).</p> <p>If meditation can help patients who need open-heart surgery, imagine what it can do for you.</p> <h2>7. Stretch Your Muscles</h2> <p><img width="605" height="403" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>David Spinks</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>How many of us have careers that allow us to move all day? Probably not many. Most of us sit in front of a computer with the posture of a jumbo shrimp. If you slump in front of a PC (or a Mac, I won't discriminate) for the better part of your waking hours, try getting up every hour and performing <a href="">some simple stretches</a>. You <a href="">don't even have to get out of your chair</a> if you don't want to.</p> <p>Stretching doesn't just increase range of motion, it actually acts like <a href="">low-impact strength training</a> for your muscles. Stretching can increase blood flow and energize an office-bound body. Stretching doesn't have to be dramatic or particularly athletic, it just has to be consistent. So set a timer on your computer and do a little stretch once an hour, concentrating on different muscle groups (neck, arms, back, legs) until your whole body is lightly worked.</p> <h2>8. Spend 10 Minutes Outside</h2> <p><img width="605" height="467" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Office Now</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>Although you're probably not suffering from <a href="">rickets</a>, assuming you enjoy being outside, spending time there is a good way to get a boost of vitamin D and some fresh air &mdash; if you can find some fresh air where you live. <a href="">Vitamin D deficiency</a>, which is chronic in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, can increase the risk of many chronic conditions and illnesses. If you can rectify this by standing outside for a few minutes a day and absorbing a bit of sunlight, why not do it? Standing outside is (so far) free.</p> <h2>9. Cut Back on Caffeine</h2> <p><img width="605" height="403" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>D'Arcy Norman</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>Unless you are experiencing negative side effects from caffeine, it's not something that necessarily has to be eliminated from your day completely. But what if you are? If you're taking in too much caffeine during the day, you may find yourself jittery and nervous, or experiencing problems with indigestion or severe heartburn. Caffeine is a funny kind of drug &mdash; it's probably the only socially acceptable addiction, and there are many ways to get your daily fix. If you do consume caffeine on a regular basis, try getting it from drinks that are not highly processed. Choose coffee over Mountain Dew, for instance. Coffee is much lower in calories, and <a href="">coffee also has antioxidant properties</a> that make it an attractive drink.</p> <h2>10. Drink a Cup of Tea</h2> <p><img width="605" height="403" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Renato Ganoza</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>Drinking a cup of <a href="">tea is healthy</a> and a smart way to get the aforementioned caffeine fix. Tea can help lower blood sugar, increase metabolism, and offer a nice excuse to socialize. Stick to decaf tea if you want to drink it later in the day, but caffeinated is perfectly fine for morning. If you don't particularly like tea, it's possible that you are brewing it wrong. Green tea needs to be brewed at a much lower temperature than black tea, for instance.</p> <h2>11. Sleep More</h2> <p><img width="350" height="350" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Umberto Salvagnin</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p><a href="">Sleep deprivation makes you fat</a>. Seriously. When your body is low on energy, it will burn less energy than it usually does and hang onto calories that you don't need. <a href="">Chronic sleep deprivation</a> can increase the <a href="">risk of developing Type II diabetes</a>.</p> <p>In a culture that never seems to unplug, and where bragging about lack of sleep is almost a hobby, getting enough rest to recharge your body may seem impossible. But remember, there is really nothing glamorous about being overworked and miserable, no matter what your buddies in investment banking may tell you. Sleep is incredibly important to your health.</p> <p>There may be any number of reasons <a href="">why you aren't getting enough sleep</a>, from bad sleeping habits to working overtime to stress or sleep apnea. If there is one single thing that you can do to improve your health today, <a href="">getting more sleep should take priority</a>.</p> <h2>12. Watch Less TV</h2> <p><img width="605" height="454" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>dullhunk</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p><a href="">Watching less television</a> may be the key to getting more sleep if you are suffering from lack of Zs. Do you find yourself gazing glassy-eyed at the local news at 11 p.m., as dingbat reporters try to find some sort of local connection between a horrible world event and the area you live in? It's time to cut back on television. After all, you can get your news from the radio or the internet. Do you stay up late, trying to cram all your TiVo'd episodes of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot; into a single evening? Consider choosing one of two television shows to concentrate on, then skip the rest. Trust me, your life won't be any less rich if you miss a season or two (or the entire span) of &quot;The Apprentice.&quot;</p> <h2>13. Laugh Your Ass Off</h2> <p><img width="350" height="341" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Phil Scoville</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p><a href="">The benefits of laughter</a> are probably obvious to anyone who has ever had a laughing fit, the kind where you feel like you might burst or pee. <a href="">Laughter reduces stress</a>, and the best part? It's easy to come by. Rent whatever kind of silly movie makes you guffaw. Spend time with people who have you rolling in the aisles. Make a point of attending stand-up comedy nights. You don't have to be an all-around mirthful person (although it wouldn't hurt), because even grumps can benefit from a couple of hours of medicinal giggling.</p> <h2>14. Quit Smoking</h2> <p><img width="605" height="454" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Curran Kelleher</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>Do we really need any details on this one? Everyone knows how terrible smoking is for you. Just stop it. It's gross.</p> <h2>15. Eat One (More) Serving of Fruit</h2> <p><img width="605" height="454" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>the Italian voice</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>How awesome is fruit? Seriously, think about your favorite fruit and how much you enjoy it. What is it? Pineapple? Bananas? Blueberries? Tomatoes? Peaches? Now give yourself the gift of eating a single serving of that fruit, fresh or frozen (but not canned) once a day. You get fiber, nutrients, and a happy mouth. Some fruits, like peaches, are only in season for a short while, so buy them frozen at Trader Joe's or Costco and throw them into a protein shake in the morning. Or cook them with some white wine and chilies and put on top of baked fish. Find a way to incorporate your favorite fruit into your day. It's a treat AND a healthy choice.</p> <h2>16. Exercise Your Brain</h2> <p><img width="605" height="454" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Jay Bergesen</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>We don't really know if doing small brain exercises, like crossword puzzles or Sudoku, can really help stave off dementia in old age. But small brain teasers that can be performed during, say, your lunch hour, are a good way to help <a href="">increase your memory capacity</a>. Puzzles and quizzes are also a good way to pass idle time when waiting in line or on public transit. You can zone out while still engaging your brain. Don't feel like working on a puzzle? Try keeping a journal. Even if you simply write down the most mundane things that have happened to you at the end of the day, being forced to remember what happened since you got out of bed every morning is a good mental exercise, and it can help to recap your day right before bed.</p> <h2>17. Smile More</h2> <p><img width="605" height="402" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>amrufm</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>It can be hard to smile when you don't feel happy, but conjuring up happy thoughts and really putting on a (sincerely) <a href="">happy face can better your mood</a> and the moods of those around you. <a href="">Facial feedback hypothesis</a> indicates that doing away with your scowl, at the very least, can have real positive effects on your emotions.</p> <h2>18. Take Your Fish Oil</h2> <p><img width="605" height="454" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Stephen Cummings</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>Look, it's not my favorite supplement, either. The pills are big, and I always end up burping a gross, fishy scent for a couple of hours. But <a href="">fish oil may fight depression and anxiety</a>, and maybe help stave off cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's. Unless you are allergic to fish, there's really no reason not to take it. Other than the fishy burps, and that's not a good enough reason.</p> <h2>19. Take a Hot Bath</h2> <p><img width="350" height="350" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>elly jonez</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>Taking a warm bath might not be the greenest way to relax, but a <a href="">hot bath can help lower your blood sugar</a>, relax aching muscles, and help you sleep better. It's not something that should be done every single day, but after a long walk in the park or on a cold evening in the winter, a good, long soak in the tub can be just what the doctor ordered.</p> <h2>20. Make Love, Not War</h2> <p><img width="605" height="403" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Jean Koulev</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>Seriously, having sex is not just awesomely fun, <a href="">sex is good for you</a>. Oh, yes, there are risks, so take your precautions and don't do anything stupid. But if you have a partner who you trust and who trusts you, seriously, get it on. Regularly. If you have a choice between arguing about whose turn it is to do the laundry and having <a href="">hot monkey sex</a> with your significant other, which one appeals more?</p> <p>Please say &quot;hot monkey sex.&quot;</p> <h2>21. Floss Your Teeth</h2> <p><img width="350" height="307" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by <a href="">D. Sharon Pruitt</a>.</em></p> <p>Sure, flossing is significantly less interesting than having regular, rewarding sex, but it can help with your sex life by <a href="">preventing gum disease AND tooth decay</a>, because no one wants to make sweet, stress-relieving love to someone with a mouth full of rotting teeth. Yes, flossing is incredibly boring. But it's also very easy, and inexpensive, and good for you. So do it.</p> <h2>22. Adopt a Pet</h2> <p><img width="350" height="337" alt="My dog after face-planting in a puddle, during a walk in the park." src="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by Andrea Karim.</em></p> <p>Assuming you have the financial capacity and living situation that makes this viable, having a pet can be a wonderful experience. You'll need to choose the right kind of pet (fish aren't good for cuddling, many lizards are difficult to walk in a leash, horses make lousy apartment dwellers) and do all of your research into diet and other needs before adopting. Look first for animals at shelters that need homes, rather than to for-profit pet stores or illicit breeders. Animals offer companionship and a hefty dose of regular unintentional hilarity (see photo above for example &mdash; that is my dog doing his best to look dignified after falling face-first into a mud puddle).</p> <p>Dogs are great socializers, and the regular walks that they require will force you to get outside and walk more (which satisfies #1 and #8). Cats may not get you outside much, but they offer comfort and warmth and force you to replace your window treatments once every five years or so.</p> <h2>23. Get a Massage</h2> <p>&nbsp;<img width="650" height="488" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>o5com</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>It can be hard to believe that something as indulgent as massage therapy can really have health benefits, but <a href="">massage is great for your health</a>. From increasing circulation and flexibility to easing muscle aches and pinched nerves to improving brain wave activity, massage combines good feeling with healthy living. Massage can also be expensive, so seek out daily coupon email deals, massage schools, willing friends, and subscription packages from lower-priced massage centers like Massage Envy.</p> <h2>24. Plant a Garden</h2> <p><img width="605" height="467" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Ajith Kumar</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>Gardening is a wonderful activity that allows you to spend hours outside, playing in the dirt. Think of it as childhood revisited. But unlike childhood, when playing in the dirt merely meant getting dirty, gardening as an adult can offer a bounty of rewards, from fresh flowers to fruits, vegetables, and herbs that will improve your diet and impress your friends.</p> <p>Even if you don't have a yard, container gardening can offer plenty in the way of fresh tomatoes and enviable basil yields. Just find a sunny spot in your condo and tend your pots regularly. Dry, pickle, or preserve whatever you can't finish during the growing season, and keep the excitement of homegrown goodness year-round.</p> <h2>25. Take a Fiber Supplement</h2> <p><img width="605" height="403" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo by </em><a href=""><em>Nathan Jones</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>If you already eat the <a href="">recommended daily serving of fruits and vegetables</a>, getting more fiber might not be necessary. But if you eat a typical American diet, you're probably a bit low on fiber at the moment. Although taking fiber won't replace eating well, it can help even the dietetically challenged by making you feel fuller and by giving your colon a good ol' cleansing. You don't need to take anything special, just have a glass of water with some Metamucil or Benefiber in the morning before breakfast and again before dinner. If you want something that feels more like a treat, you can try some of those fiber gummy bears (they really are delicious).</p> <p>Fiber can help lower cholesterol and fight heart disease, as well, in addition to keeping know, regular.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. 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