resolutions http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/266/all en-US 10 More Hobbies You Can Start for Free http://www.wisebread.com/10-more-hobbies-you-can-start-for-free <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-more-hobbies-you-can-start-for-free" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000036662410_Large.jpg" alt="she&#039;s taking up a fun hobby for free" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In a 2014 time use survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics uncovered that Americans &mdash; on average &mdash; spend <a href="http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm">2.8 hours watching television</a> each day. That's a lot of time staring at a box, right?</p> <p>Well, instead of straining your eyes and allowing your brain to transform into mush, maybe it's time for a new hobby. Here are a bunch <em>more</em> cool hobbies you can start today for free! (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-fun-hobbies-you-can-take-up-for-free?ref=seealso">10 Fun Hobbies You Can Take Up for Free</a>)</p> <h2>1. Cooking or Baking</h2> <p>Learning to make better dinners or desserts doesn't have to cost anything outside of your normal grocery budget. There are millions of recipes you can access for free online. To make sure you have the right ingredients and don't go over budget, try meal planning. All you have to do is find recipes that look good, write down what you'll need, and head to the store. You might not be able to make something special every night of the week, so start by cooking on a weekend when you might usually go out.</p> <h2>2. Nature Identification</h2> <p>Take out some books from your local library on nature identification. You can focus on birds, plants, insects, stars, or whatever else interests you most. Then step into your backyard and take a look around. I used to collect leaves so I could figure out the exact type of trees that we had growing in our neighborhood. Now that my daughter is older, she can join me on the adventure.</p> <h2>3. Weather Reporting</h2> <p>Are you always watching the precipitation or other weather events in your area? Your local branch of the National Weather Service likely runs free training sessions on how to become a weather spotter through the <a href="http://skywarn.org/about/">SKYWARN volunteer program</a>. After you've taken the class, you'll work to identify and describe severe weather in your area and report back to your local station.</p> <h2>4. Drawing</h2> <p>I've never been good at art, so I was delighted to find <a href="https://www.drawspace.com">Draw Space</a>. This corner of the web offers free tutorials and instruction on drawing and other art for beginners all the way to advanced artists. Focus on contours, shading, composition, or any other area that interests you.</p> <h2>5. Photography</h2> <p>Yes! You can take up photography for free, provided you have an iPhone (or other cell phone with camera capabilities). And though you might not believe me, you can shoot DSLR-quality photos with your phone and a little knowledge. The <a href="http://iphonephotographyschool.com/iphoneography/">iPhone Photography School</a> has a number of tutorials on everything from &quot;making the most of light&quot; to photo editing.&nbsp;</p> <h2>6. Whittling</h2> <p>Whittling is a relaxing craft that also happens to be free if you have an old pocket knife. According to The Art of Manliness, <a href="http://www.artofmanliness.com/2011/12/12/a-beginners-guide-to-whittling/">softwoods work best</a> (you can find basswood, pine, and others at your local craft shop), but backyard twigs work just as well. Make sure your knife is sharp, learn the basic cuts, and get creative. Your library might have books with ideas for projects.</p> <h2>7. Vlogging</h2> <p>If you're not into writing or blogging, considering heading over to YouTube and starting your own vlog. Creating an account is free and &mdash; if you get popular &mdash; you may even make some money on the side if you link up your channel to Adsense. You can take videos and upload them in no time using your cell phone. What you talk about is up to you, so long as you follow the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/yt/policyandsafety/communityguidelines.html">community guidelines</a>.</p> <h2>8. Dancing</h2> <p>Could your moves use some work? Check out <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl5BOPEjOB6kR8IxzWy3bWg">Club Dance Lessons</a> for free videos on hip-hop, electronic, salsa, and all other types of dance. Whether you're looking for twerking lessons, dance seduction moves, or freestyle grooves, you're covered. Plus, dancing is great exercise if you hate going to the gym.</p> <h2>9. Couponing</h2> <p>I still haven't gotten into coupons, but some of my friends swear this ever-popular hobby saves them tons of cash. You'll likely want to get the Sunday paper, and scour the web for digital deals, but the savings you'll see is most usually worth the few dollars you'll spend. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/score-coupons-for-every-online-store-even-the-ones-that-dont-have-coupons?ref=seealso">Score Coupons for Every Online Store</a>)</p> <h2>10. Meditating</h2> <p>Sure, your body might be fit and active, but what about your mind? Try meditating to relieve stress, lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and more. Gaiam offers a wonderful (and free!) start-up guide for <a href="http://life.gaiam.com/article/meditation-101-techniques-benefits-beginner-s-how">How to Meditate</a>. Start by sitting and closing your eyes. Breathe naturally. Focus your attention on your breath and work up to concentrating in this way for two to three minutes. From there, work your way to longer periods of time.</p> <p><em>Did we miss any cool free hobbies? Let us know in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-more-hobbies-you-can-start-for-free">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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="http://www.wisebread.com/the-35-best-ways-to-spend-your-free-time-frugally">The 35 Best Ways to Spend Your Free Time (Frugally)</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="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-all-the-frugal-skills-you-need-with-these-9-great-video-tutorials">Learn All the Frugal Skills You Need With These 9 Great Video Tutorials</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="http://www.wisebread.com/25-easy-ways-to-make-your-life-more-interesting">25 Easy Ways to Make Your Life More Interesting</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="http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year">4 Money Resolutions You Should Skip This Year</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="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-something-new-with-these-9-cheap-apps">Learn Something New With These 9 Cheap Apps</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living activities free fun free hobbies hobbies learning resolutions skills Fri, 05 Feb 2016 16:00:05 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1649860 at http://www.wisebread.com Learn Something New With These 9 Cheap Apps http://www.wisebread.com/learn-something-new-with-these-9-cheap-apps <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/learn-something-new-with-these-9-cheap-apps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000062778500_Large.jpg" alt="learning something new with a cheap educational app" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With so many new things in the world to learn and so little time in your hectic schedule to spare, the learning part should be easy and accessible. For those who don't have the patience to sit down with a book, and who also are extremely attached to their smartphones, apps are a great way to turn a potential distraction into a powerful and portable medium for learning.</p> <p>Here are nine cheap or free apps to help you learn something new.</p> <h2>1. Couch to 5K</h2> <p>Right now, many Americans are trying to keep their New Year's Resolutions. Among the top resolutions is to &quot;get fit&quot; and one of the most common ways to achieve that is to get off the couch and train for a 5K race.</p> <p>Recommended by Shape Magazine as the best app for new runners, Couch to 5K provides you a training schedule of three 30-minute sessions a week for nine weeks to achieve your goal of running your first 5K race. It costs $2.99 to download and it's available on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/couch-to-5k-running-app-training/id448474423?mt=8">iTunes</a> and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.active.aps.c25k">Google Play</a>.</p> <p>Ready for the next level? There are also <a href="http://www.activenetwork.com/mobile-apps/5k-to-10k-app">5K to 10K</a> and half-marathon (<a href="http://www.activenetwork.com/mobile-apps/13-1-half-marathon-app">13.One</a>) training apps. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-apps-that-pay-you-to-exercise?ref=seealso">5 Apps That Pay You to Exercise</a>)</p> <h2>2. Dictionary</h2> <p>Want to become a &quot;logophile&quot; or discover what that word even means? Then download the Dictionary.com mobile apps for free (available for <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dictionary.com-dictionary/id308750436?mt=8&amp;at=1l3vsk3&amp;ct=mobileappspage_iphonefree">iPhone</a>, <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dictionary.com-dictionary/id364740856?mt=8">iPad</a>, Apple Watch, <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dictionary&amp;hl=en">Android</a>, Android Wear, and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Dictionary-com-Dictionary-and-Thesaurus-Android/dp/B004GMT14Y">Amazon</a> devices). With over 100 million app downloads and 5.5 billion word searches per year, Dictionary.com is the world's leading digital English dictionary.</p> <p>Through its Word of the Day feature, you'll learn a new word every day, including its definition, pronunciation, origin, and example of use. This dictionary app also allows you to keep track of your favorite words so that you can bring them up when the time is right &mdash; and impress the pants off everyone you know with your massive vocabulary.</p> <h2>3. Duolingo</h2> <p>Speaking more than one language may enable you for higher pay in certain jobs and help you <a href="http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/journals/pspi/bilingual-minds.html">fight against Alzheimer's disease</a>. By gamifying the language learning process, Duolingo (available on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/app/duolingo-learn-spanish-french/id570060128?mt=8">iTunes</a>, <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.duolingo">Google Play</a>, and <a href="https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/duolingo-learn-languages-for-free/9wzdncrcv5xn">Windows Store</a>) makes your lessons fun and provides immediate gratification. Duolingo grants you points for completing tasks so you can see how you stack up against your friends.</p> <p>Chosen as 2013's App of the Year by Apple and available for free download, Duolingo is a top choice for learning Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Irish, Danish, and English.</p> <h2>4. Fooducate</h2> <p>With an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 from a total of 11,200 ratings, Fooducate is another useful app to keep your resolution for a healthier and fitter 2016. This app, available on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fooducate/id398436747?mt=8">iTunes</a> and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fooducate.nutritionapp&amp;referrer=utm_source%3Dfdct-redirect%26utm_campaign%3DFdct-Web-footer-button%26utm_medium%3Dna">Google Play</a>, grades food items from A down to D based on the item's nutrition facts panel and ingredient list.</p> <p>By scanning the UPC of many food items, you'll be able to spot information that may be hard to identify, including tricky trans fats, added sugars, and controversial food colorings. The rating isn't arbitrary. In 2012, the <a href="http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/news/2012/02/sg_healthy_app_challenge-winners.html">U.S. Surgeon General's Healthy App Challenge</a> awarded Fooducate first place in the category of nutrition and healthy eating.</p> <h2>5. Khan Academy</h2> <p>Use it or lose it. Spreadsheet software and modern calculators hinder many math skills, including performing long division, factoring a quadratic equation, finding the least common multiple, or solving a system of linear equations. While you may have thought that you would never have to perform these math operations ever again, you would run into them if you were to take a standardized test, such as the GMAT, GRE, or ASVAB.</p> <p>Without ads and subscription fees, the Khan Academy app, available on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/khan-academy/id469863705?mt=8&amp;uo=4">iTunes</a> and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.khanacademy.android&amp;hl=en">Google Play</a>, allows you to review those key math skills. You can also find plenty of free online classes on science, computer programming, history, art, economics, and other topics.</p> <h2>6. Mint</h2> <p>Available on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mint-personal-finance/id300238550?mt=8">iTunes</a>, <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mint&amp;hl=en">Google Play</a>, and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Intuit-Mint-com-Personal-Finance/dp/B004T2P7MQ">Amazon</a>, the free Mint app helps you track all your financial accounts, cards, and investments in one place so you can improve your financial wellbeing. While you could try to keep track of all of your finances from statements, you could benefit greatly from Mint's visual dashboard. And since 65% of individuals are <a href="http://www.uab.edu/uasomume/fd2/visuals/page1.htm">visual learners</a>, the app's bar charts, pie charts, and colorful alerts allow you to spend smarter and save more.</p> <p>One of the best features of the app is the ability to create a detailed budget so you can keep track of how much money you have left for the month in specific categories, such as dining, clothing, and transportation.</p> <h2>7. Poems By Heart</h2> <p>Another way to keep your mind sharp is to improve your memory. The Poems By Heart app helps you memorize and recite poems from several genres, including the &quot;Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day&quot; sonnet by Shakespeare and &quot;Eldorado&quot; by Edgar Allan Poe.</p> <p>The app is only available for <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/poems-by-heart-from-penguin/id577789325?mt=8">iPhone and iPad</a> and comes with four free poems. You can buy additional poem packages that feature the works of iconic poets like Walt Whitman, W.B. Yeats, and James Weldon Johnson. Apple featured Poems by Heart as one of &quot;Apple's App Store Best of 2013&quot; because it's highly engaging (and addictive!) user design.</p> <h2>8. Photomath</h2> <p>One of the hardest things about solving mathematical problems is to understand all of the steps involved in the process. Even worse, it's hard enough trying to write down a complicated arithmetic operation or lengthy linear equation.</p> <p>The Photomath app allows you to snap a photo of a wide variety of mathematical expressions, including basic arithmetic, fractions, decimal numbers, linear equations and several functions, with the camera of your <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photomath/id919087726">iPhone</a> or <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microblink.photomath">Android device</a> and show you a step-by-step answer. This is a very useful app for math students of all levels and parents of those young students willing to help out.</p> <h2>9. Quizlet</h2> <p>Flashcards are an excellent study tool because they allow for a self-directed personalized study experience that help us gauge our progress. Available on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/quizlet-flashcards-study-tools/id546473125?mt=8">iTunes</a> and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.quizlet.quizletandroid&amp;hl=en&amp;referrer=utm_source%3Dmobilepage">Google Play</a>, the Quizlet app allows you to build your own set of digital flashcards on any subject that you're trying to master. From learning new words in Spanish to memorizing kitchen recipes to preparing for a driving permit practice test, use Quizlet to unlock the learning power of flashcards in six study modes.</p> <p><em>What are other cheap or free apps to help you learn something? Share with us in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-something-new-with-these-9-cheap-apps">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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-4"> <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="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-didn-t-learn-in-college-but-you-should-have">10 Things You Didn’t Learn in College (but You Should Have)</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="http://www.wisebread.com/college/college-resources">40+ College Resources for Parents and Students</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="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-affording-education">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Affording Education</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="http://www.wisebread.com/10-back-to-school-iphone-apps">10 Back-to-School iPhone Apps</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="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-get-student-loan-debt-forgiveness">8 Ways to Get Student Loan Debt Forgiveness</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Lifestyle cheap apps education free apps iPhone learning new skills resolutions Wed, 03 Feb 2016 18:19:00 +0000 Damian Davila 1647754 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Restart Your Resolutions This Spring http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-restart-your-resolutions-this-spring <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-restart-your-resolutions-this-spring" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000076065413_Large.jpg" alt="restarting her resolution in spring" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sure, I resolved to &quot;be better about flossing&quot; and &quot;do more crunches&quot; in my list of resolutions for 2016. I even spoke my resolutions aloud in my work wellness group to reinforce ethem. And then, upon re-reading them, I wondered how long those goals would last. A little research told me that only 8% of people who make resolutions actually achieve them.</p> <p>As it turns out, maybe New Year's just isn't the best time to make resolutions. Maybe we should all be waiting until the snow melts and the flowers start to bloom. Isn't that a better setting to tap into your motivated self anyway? Here are five ways to restart your resolutions this spring, so you actually achieve them.</p> <h2>1. Remember That Goals Can Be Made Anytime</h2> <p>We like to make resolutions in January, because it's the traditional time to do so, and that &quot;new year, fresh start&quot; feeling is palpable and contagious. By breaking free of that January tradition, you might be able to actually achieve success. According to StatisticBrain, the top <a href="http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/">New Year's Resolutions in 2015</a> were:</p> <ul> <li>Lose weight</li> <li>Spend less, save more</li> <li>Enjoy life to the fullest</li> <li>Stay fit and healthy</li> <li>Learn something exciting</li> <li>Quit smoking</li> <li>Help others</li> <li>Fall in love</li> <li>Spend more time with family</li> </ul> <p>Sure, it's easy to hop on the scale January 1 and resolve to move more and consume less, but when the days are short and your energy is at an all-time low, it can be tough to get motivated. Why not start that new fitness chapter of your life once the snow melts and when being outdoors is actually bearable?</p> <p>And for &quot;spend less, save more,&quot; wouldn't reviewing your financial goals <em>after </em>your taxes are done make more sense? That's a very natural time to review what you've done, and see where you need to work harder. April, then, could be a month to <em>begin</em> setting financial goals.</p> <p>Many of these resolutions can be implemented at any point during the year. There is nothing magical about starting them in January.</p> <h2>2. Learn to Exercise Because You Want to, Not Because You Have To</h2> <p>A soon-to-be-published Duke University study found that <a href="http://www.fuqua.duke.edu/news_events/news-releases/jordan-etkin-tracking/">measurement of exercise</a> &quot;Has these pernicious effects. Enjoyable activities can become almost like a job, by forcing out the outcomes of things that used to be fun,&quot; said Professor Etkin, of the results.</p> <p>I'm guilty of that. I like to write tasks down, and then cross them off. In doing those crunches, I'm not focusing on whether I'm doing them well, and using good form. I'm just counting them. I see a lot of this on Twitter, in tweets about how far a person has walked, or the amount of exercise performed. Instead, find something that's actually enjoyable, and it will feel less like a chore and more like a treat. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-yoga-can-teach-you-about-money?ref=seealso">5 Things Yoga Can Teach You About Money</a>)</p> <h2>3. Get Focused on Being Frugal</h2> <p>What do many of us do in January? We pay, or begin to pay, our credit card bills. Christmas was merry, but the Macy's bill isn't. And yet, what do we do? Join gyms. Buy exercise equipment. We pile debt upon debt in the name of self-improvement. And then tax season hits and we're back to suffering through another financial stress period.</p> <p>Once Tax Day passes, look at springtime as a fresh start for your finances. Banish the urge to buy a new spring wardrobe and focused on becoming more frugally-minded instead.</p> <h2>4. Use Winter as a Recovery Period</h2> <p>After the delightful fun vibe of the holiday season, we put away our decorations and gear up for the new year. Many of us have put off big work projects until the holidays are over, since it's frustrating trying to coordinate meetings or meet deadlines at the end of the year. So, work in the winter becomes one long day after another. If you have resolved to go to the gym before or after work, that's just one more thing you need to get done each day. If you are already stressed about bills, work, family pressures, or other areas of your life, this is the wrong time to try to &quot;better yourself.&quot;</p> <p>What's best is to get your life in a calmer place, first. Think of winter as a recovery time for every aspect of your life, and use the dewy beauty of spring for rejuvenation and goal achievement.</p> <h2>5. Go Slow and Steady Toward Your Goals</h2> <p>Would you like to make a lot of self-improvements? First, remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. Next, try making a list. Pick the <em>one </em>thing on that list that is the most important to you. Make sure it's realistic. When you feel you are ready to try to achieve this goal (meaning not stressed out about other parts of your life), give it a while. If, after a month or two, you are sticking with it, <em>then</em> add another. Be like the tortoise, and you'll get there way before the hare.</p> <p><em>Will you restart your resolutions this spring? Let us know in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-restart-your-resolutions-this-spring">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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="http://www.wisebread.com/checking-in-with-old-goals-for-the-new-year">Checking in With Old Goals for the New Year</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="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-goals-all-30-somethings-should-have">10 Money Goals All 30-Somethings Should Have</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="http://www.wisebread.com/spice-up-the-conversation-by-skipping-what-do-you-do">Spice Up the Conversation by Skipping &quot;What Do You Do?&quot;</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="http://www.wisebread.com/solve-problems-study-and-brainstorm-using-mind-maps">Solve Problems, Study, and Brainstorm using Mind Maps</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="http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">8 Financial Decisions You&#039;ll Never Regret</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Lifestyle focus goals new year's resolutions resolutions spring Fri, 22 Jan 2016 12:00:04 +0000 Marla Walters 1642418 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Money Goals All 30-Somethings Should Have http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-goals-all-30-somethings-should-have <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-money-goals-all-30-somethings-should-have" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/30-somethings_financial_goals.jpg" alt="30-somethings achieving financial goals" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You are not 29 anymore. It's time to start acting like a grown-up. Aside from doing mature things like ironing your clothes and eating more kale, it's also time to get your financial house in order.</p> <p>Take a look at these 10 financial goals that all 30-somethings should have. Do yours line up?</p> <h2>1. Saving for a Comfortable Retirement</h2> <p>You may think that retirement is a long way off, but you're approaching a time when retirement age is closer than your college years. Crazy, but true. Hopefully, you've saved at least a little bit toward retirement up until this point. Now is the time to ramp it up. Try to max out your contributions into retirement accounts, if you can. If you're maxed out on your 401K, open an IRA. The last thing you want is to be sitting there at age 65 unable to retire because your 30-something self didn't plan ahead. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-financial-mistakes-to-stop-making-by-age-40">6 Financial Mistakes to Stop Making by Age 40</a>)</p> <h2>2. Rebalancing Investments</h2> <p>If you began putting money into your 401K or other retirement plans in your 20s, that's great. But have you looked at them recently? Chances are, the balances of those investments may be out of line with what you intended. You may be too heavily invested in company stock. You may have less exposure to international investments than you planned. You may have too many large-cap investments and not enough small-cap stocks. Consider talking with an investment advisor to find the right investment mix, and get in the habit of rebalancing once each year.</p> <h2>3. Eliminating Credit Card Debt</h2> <p>If you racked up bills due to some irresponsible spending habits when you were younger, it's time to get yourself in line and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">eliminate that high-interest debt</a>. Start by paying off the card with the highest interest rate and go from there. And then once you that debt paid off, start getting in the habit of paying your credit card bill in full each month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso">When to Use a Balance Transfer to Pay Off Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>4. Paying Off Student Loans</h2> <p>Student loans were crushing to you in your 20s. But now you're reaching a point when maybe you can see the bottom of that debt pile. If elimination of that debt is within reach, go after it aggressively until it's all gone. You'll be amazed at how liberating it will feel, both financially and psychologically. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-refinance-your-student-loan?ref=seealso">Should You Refinance Your Student Loan?</a>)</p> <h2>5. Earning More Money</h2> <p>Now that you're in your 30s, there's a good chance you have a good sense of what you want to be when you grow up. You have chosen a career path and can gain some income stability. Moreover, you have now been in the workforce for more than a decade, and have experience that you can leverage to go after that new job, that raise, and that promotion.</p> <h2>6. Saving for a Down Payment On a Home</h2> <p>If you are earning more and have your credit card and student loan debt gone, now's the time to stop renting and buy a home. If you plan to settle down, you're doing to want to save as much as you can to afford the house you want. Being saddled with a huge mortgage will only kill you later. Save up, so those monthly mortgage payments are manageable &mdash; or even non existent.</p> <h2>7. Building Up an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Living on the edge was fun and exciting when you were in your 20s. If you got into a pinch, you could always bum money off your friends or parents. But it's not so cute when you're in your 30s and one major car repair or broken furnace from a financial disaster. It's time to start building up that emergency fund &mdash; at least three months worth of expenses &mdash; so you can easily handle whatever comes your way.</p> <h2>8. Being Properly Insured</h2> <p>When you're young, you may not feel it's necessary to save for your car insurance. You might settle for a low-cost health plan and skimp on some cheap renters' insurance. But you're older now. You have stuff that's worth money. And you're no longer invincible, health-wise. You may even have people in your life who count on you. This means you may need a more robust health insurance plan. You may need better homeowner's insurance. And it may be time to look into some term life insurance plans, so that your loved ones are taken care of if something happens to you. You may not want to think about bad things happening, but it's not like being unprepared for disasters will prevent them from happening.</p> <h2>9. Writing a Will</h2> <p>I'm not suggesting you need to start worrying about death, but you need to at least give some guidance on how your things should be divided up if you pass. And if you have kids, it's especially important to outline a plan for how they'll be cared for. You can get a will completed fairly easily online at websites like LegalZoom.</p> <h2>10. Giving to Charity</h2> <p>You are hopefully at a point in your life when you have a little extra money to give to those less fortunate. If you have some extra cash, consider donating it to a cause that you support. Not only will it be great for the recipient and make you feel good, but you can get a tax deduction as well.</p> <p><em>Do you have your act together, or are your finances still stuck in the previous decade?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-goals-all-30-somethings-should-have">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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-2"> <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="http://www.wisebread.com/the-retirement-latte">The Retirement Latte</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="http://www.wisebread.com/21-things-that-young-adults-absolutely-need-to-know-about-money">21 Things That Young Adults Absolutely Need to Know 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="http://www.wisebread.com/making-every-penny-count-with-a-zero-based-budget">Making Every Penny Count With A Zero-Based Budget</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="http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking</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="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-mistakes-you-need-to-stop-making-by-30">5 Financial Mistakes You Need to Stop Making by 30</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Budgeting budgeting insurance investing millennials resolutions saving Thu, 14 Jan 2016 12:01:03 +0000 Tim Lemke 1638009 at http://www.wisebread.com Fitness Resolutions: How Much Will Your New Exercise Routine Cost? http://www.wisebread.com/fitness-resolutions-how-much-will-your-new-exercise-routine-cost <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/fitness-resolutions-how-much-will-your-new-exercise-routine-cost" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_running_outside_000051145250.jpg" alt="Woman learning how much her fitness resolution will cost" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are you working hard to get fit in 2016? Welcome to the club. What you might not have considered before heading to that fitness class or lacing up your shoes is what that new routine is going to cost you. Here are five popular forms of exercise with a quick breakdown of some initial and regular costs you might incur. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-at-home-exercises-will-give-you-a-gym-quality-workout-for-free?ref=seealso">These At-Home Exercises Will Give You a Gym-Quality Workout for Free</a>)</p> <h2>1. Walking or Running</h2> <p>One of the cheapest and easiest forms of exercise is walking. Depending on where you live, you may already have everything you need to take a jaunt around the neighborhood. You don't necessarily have to buy a fancy pair of shoes, but walking-specific sneaks might run you somewhere between $35 and $120. Otherwise, just map out some paths around your area and dress for the weather.</p> <p>Walking and running are similar in cost, but running does entail a few extras. You'll likely sweat much more while you're running, so you may want to invest in some tech fabric clothing. Big box stores like Target and Walmart often have good deals. And while you can walk in most pairs of shoes, running requires a bit more support and cushioning. At sites like <a href="http://www.runningwarehouse.com">Running Warehouse</a>, you can find a pair ranging in price from $50 to $180 and up.</p> <p>Of course, if you live in a colder climate, you might also consider joining a local gym for treadmill access. Buying your own treadmill can cost well over $1,000. Check Craigslist and yard sales for gently used models at a fraction of this price.</p> <h2>2. Yoga</h2> <p>Breathe in, breathe out. Yoga is all about the mind-body connection and can do wonders to de-stress your life. What's also cool about yoga is that you can do it from the comfort of your living room. A <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018U6FMHQ/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B018U6FMHQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=XT6AOQC7DLYHWAUR">basic yoga mat</a> costs only $10. You may also want to pick up a block and a strap to help ease your body into certain positions, but they're also low in price.</p> <p>Studio class costs range depending on location, but I've seen anything from a $5 student drop-in rate to $25 or more per group session (the prices climb significantly if you want a private lesson). If you're a member of a gym, check around to see if yoga classes are offered for free or at a lower price. And ask studio managers if they offer introductory class passes that give you a number of sessions at a discounted price.</p> <p>Better yet, you can find countless free yoga workouts on YouTube. I like <a href="http://yogawithadriene.com">Yoga with Adriene</a> &mdash; budget is no excuse not to get your flow on. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-online-workout-videos-for-free-or-cheap?ref=seealso">7 Online Workout Videos for Free or Cheap</a>)</p> <h2>3. Spinning</h2> <p>I've never seen people more passionate about cardio than in my old spinning classes. My group met early in the morning at the local YMCA. Classes cost a modest $5 a pop (on top of our $70 monthly family membership). As far as equipment goes, a towel and water bottle are important for staying on top of hydration. Some riders choose to wear actual <a href="http://amzn.to/1W0yYnM">clip-in cycling shoes</a> that cost anywhere from $50 to $100 and up.</p> <p>Don't have a gym membership? Independent studios, like <a href="https://www.soul-cycle.com/">SoulCycle</a> in New York City, can cost around $34 per class. You get better rates if you buy class passes. For example, if you're loving it, a 30 class pass runs $850 or $28 per class.</p> <p>Eventually I caved and bought my own <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JDC0BC8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B00JDC0BC8&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=AZW4UT4T2WKJBSAW">entry-level spinning bike</a> for around $200. I've used it at least once or twice a week for the last five years. It hasn't needed any maintenance, so I consider it money well spent.</p> <h2>4. Pilates, Barre, etc.</h2> <p>Need to work on your core muscles? The Pilates method will surely get you on the right start and even help with your posture. Another routine worth mentioning is Barre, which blends the best of yoga, Pilates, and ballet into one handy workout. Equipment is minimal and often supplied by the studio. You'll mostly need a yoga mat and small hand weights.</p> <p>Like other studio classes, the costs range depending on your area. For example, at the <a href="http://purebarre.com/NY-syracuse/">Pure Barre</a> studio in Syracuse, NY, you can get an introductory month of unlimited classes for $99. Otherwise, a single class costs $20. And <a href="http://www.ploomephilly.com/rates/">Ploome Fitness</a> in Philadelphia, PA charges $28 for group Pilates classes and $99 for private sessions. You can always search for free workouts online on sites like <a href="https://www.fitnessblender.com">Fitness Blender</a>.</p> <p>Do you enjoy exercise classes in general? Don't discriminate! Consider getting a <a href="https://classpass.com">ClassPass</a>, which gives you unlimited fitness classes at a variety of studios in your area for just $125 per month.</p> <h2>5. CrossFit</h2> <p>Full disclosure: I've never participated in CrossFit &mdash; but it's extremely popular among my friends, both male and female. The format of the class is all about the W.O.D., or workout of the day. You do a mix of bodyweight challenges, heavy weights, and bursts of intense cardio among other things. You get ripped and gain confidence all at the same time.</p> <p>According to Men's Fitness, there are over 5,000 certified &quot;boxes&quot; (CrossFit gyms) across the United States. Prices vary by location. At <a href="http://crossfitnyc.com/join/prices/">CrossFit NYC</a>, for instance, box membership gets you access to over 400 workouts each week. It costs $225 per month if you attend at any time or just $165 if you commit to off-peak hours. For comparison, at <a href="http://crossfitaustin.com/membership-pricing/">CrossFit Austin</a> in TX, an unlimited, all-hours box membership runs $169.</p> <p>Though doing CrossFit workouts at home might be difficult without all the weights and other equipment, you can still get your sweat on for free. Check out this <a href="http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/crossfit-workout">Do-Anywhere Workout</a> that runs through a series of burpees, butterfly sit-ups, jump squats, and more. You'll just need your body weight and maybe a good pair of <a href="http://amzn.to/1TQczYY">CrossFit shoes</a> that might run between $40 and $175.</p> <p><em>What are your fitness goals this year?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fitness-resolutions-how-much-will-your-new-exercise-routine-cost">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-resistance-bands">The 5 Best Resistance Bands</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="http://www.wisebread.com/5-most-affordable-gym-memberships">5 Most Affordable Gym Memberships</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="http://www.wisebread.com/25-reasons-why-you-should-take-a-walk">25 Reasons Why You Should Take a Walk</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="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-119-best-fitness-hacks-for-busy-people">Flashback Friday: The 119 Best Fitness Hacks for Busy People</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="http://www.wisebread.com/12-cheap-home-workout-hacks-for-people-with-no-equipment-and-no-room">12 Cheap Home Workout Hacks for People With No Equipment and No Room</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty cost comparisons exercise fitness getting in shap resolutions Wed, 13 Jan 2016 22:00:03 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1637755 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Financial Decisions You'll Never Regret http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_piggy_bank_000058476892.jpg" alt="Woman making financial decisions she&#039;ll never regret" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A new year is here. And even if you've already broken the resolutions you made at the end of the holiday season, it's never too late to make new ones, especially when it comes to your finances.</p> <p>Here are eight financial decisions you can make now that you'll never regret. Make the moves on this list soon, and you'll dramatically increase your odds of a happy financial future.</p> <h2>1. Save More for Retirement</h2> <p>How much money will you need each year to enjoy a happy and healthy retirement? That depends on what you want to do after you leave the working world. You'll need more money if you plan to travel the world, and less if you envision days spent reading, binge-watching TV, and playing with your grandchildren.</p> <p>A survey released last April by the Employee Benefits Research Institute suggests that more workers understand they'll need large amounts of money to enjoy their retirement years. The survey found that more than one in 10 workers think they'll need to save at least $1.5 million for their retirements. That's a lot of money. One way to reach such a lofty goal? Put away as much as you can each year now, even if your retirement days seem far away.</p> <p>You'll never regret your decision to maximize your contributions to your 401K plan or your annual deposits to an IRA. Start boosting those savings today.</p> <h2>2. Building an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>What happens if your furnace conks out today? What if your car's transmission needs to be replaced? If you're like too many people, you'll put the cost of replacing these items on your credit card, building your debt.</p> <p>The better option is to draw from an emergency fund of cash that you have already saved, usually in a savings account. Financial experts recommend that you build an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of your daily living expenses. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-emergency-fund-myths-you-should-stop-believing">6 Emergency Fund Myths You Should Stop Believing</a>)</p> <p>This might seem daunting. But if you deposit what you can each month &mdash; even if it is as small as $100 &mdash; that emergency fund will steadily grow.</p> <h2>3. Pay Off Your Credit Cards</h2> <p>Carrying a balance on your credit cards each month is a terrible financial decision. That's because cards come with such high interest rates &mdash; sometimes 18% or more. This makes your monthly debt grow by too much, even if you don't add any new purchases to your cards.</p> <p>Don't just make the minimum monthly payment on your cards. If you do this, it will take far too long to pay off your credit card debt. Say you have a credit card with a balance of $5,000 and an interest rate of 18.9%. If your minimum monthly payment is 4% of your outstanding balance, it will take you more than 11 years to eliminate this debt, even if you don't make any new purchases with this card.</p> <p>The better move is to always pay more than the monthly minimum. And don't buy items with your cards that you can't afford to pay off at the end of every month.</p> <h2>4. Pay Your Bills on Time Every Month</h2> <p>A single missed payment &mdash; on credit cards, mortgage loans, auto loans, and other debts &mdash; can drop your three-digit FICO credit score by 100 points. That missed payment will also stay on your credit report for seven years.</p> <p>Decide today to never make a late payment again. Having a low credit score makes it difficult to qualify for loans or credit. When you do qualify for these loans, you'll be faced with high interest rates.</p> <h2>5. Buy a Home That You Can Actually Afford</h2> <p>It's tempting when home shopping to stretch your budget to get into a bigger, more expensive home. But buying a home that's out of your budget, even by a bit, can be a big financial mistake. Those monthly mortgage payments can quickly become a burden.</p> <p>Instead, buy a home that you can comfortably afford, even if it's not your dream residence. Mortgage experts recommend that your total monthly housing expenses, including your estimated new mortgage payment, be no more than 30% of your gross monthly income. Follow this guideline if you don't want to feel the strain each time your monthly mortgage payment comes due.</p> <h2>6. Track Your Spending</h2> <p>You might be surprised by how much you spend each month on take-out lunches or morning coffee runs. But if you create a spending book and track those expenses, it might help you make lifestyle changes that can add up to big savings each year.</p> <p>A spending book is just a notebook in which you record all your daily purchases for a set period of time, usually anywhere from two weeks to two months. Once you're done tracking your expenses, add them up. This gives you an idea where you are overspending. (You can also use automated tracking at free sites like Mint.com.) If you're spending too much on those morning coffees, for instance, you might decide to limit your time at Starbucks to twice a week instead of five times.</p> <h2>7. Create a Household Budget</h2> <p>You might shudder at the thought of drafting a budget for your household. But you can't get control of your finances if you first don't know exactly how much money is coming in and going out of your home each month. Fortunately, creating a budget isn't difficult.</p> <p>First, write down the income you receive each month. Then write down those monthly expenses that never change, everything from your mortgage payment to your auto payment to your student loans. Then, write down those payments you make each month that fluctuate a bit. This would include your utility bills, credit card bills, and transportation costs to and from work. Estimate these. Finally, include estimated amounts for monthly groceries, entertainment, and eating out.</p> <p>Once you have these figures, you can determine how much money you should have left at the end of the month. Armed with this information, you can figure how much money you can save, invest for retirement, or put away for a child's college education.</p> <h2>8. Save First, Then Buy It</h2> <p>You want that new computer or that high-end flat-screen TV. It's tempting to simply use your credit cards, but the better move is to save up for that big-ticket non-necessity, and only buy it when you can pay for it with cash.</p> <p>This takes patience, of course. It might take you several months to save up for that new TV. But you'll enjoy your new electronic treat more if you don't have to dread next month's credit card bill.</p> <p><em>What financial decisions have you never regretted?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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-2"> <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="http://www.wisebread.com/9-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off">9 Money Moves to Make the Moment Your Credit Cards Are Paid Off</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="http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year">4 Money Resolutions You Should Skip This Year</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="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-saving-new-years-goals-that-you-can-actually-keep">10 Money-Saving New Year&#039;s Goals That You Can Actually Keep</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="http://www.wisebread.com/saving-money-is-easy-if-you-set-the-right-goals">Saving Money Is Easy If You Set the Right Goals</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="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-graduate">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Graduate</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance emergency funds goals Paying Off Debt resolutions retirement saving money Wed, 13 Jan 2016 14:00:03 +0000 Dan Rafter 1634855 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Everyday Words That Are Making You Look Stupid http://www.wisebread.com/5-everyday-words-that-are-making-you-look-stupid <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-everyday-words-that-are-making-you-look-stupid" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000060760412_Full.jpg" alt="woman mistake" title="woman mistake" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We use so many words to get us through basic conversation, and we often think very little about how they make us look (like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-stupidest-things-smart-people-say">these 10 words</a> corrupting the smartest of us). Let's make correcting our speech an easy New Year's resolution! Let's start with five everyday words that are making you look stupid.</p> <h2>1. &quot;Seriously&quot;</h2> <p>Let's cut to the chase here. If you're really serious about something, just use earnest language. Starting a thought with &quot;seriously&quot; will totally undercut your meaning. In other words, using &quot;seriously&quot; now signals the opposite &mdash; that you are not serious about yourself or what you say.</p> <h2>2. &quot;Unique&quot; or &quot;Creative&quot;</h2> <p>Your parents are most likely to fall into this trap, so don't do this to yourself! People tend to say something is &quot;really unique&quot; or &quot;very creative&quot; when they don't understand what they're looking at but want to sound nice. These are phrases that somehow manage to make you look both ignorant and condescending, without providing any useful feedback. The worst part is that all of this is wholly obvious to the recipient.</p> <h2>3. &quot;Actually&quot;</h2> <p>Mansplainers, please find a new word. &quot;Actually&quot; is a great way to tell someone that you think what you are saying is a fact, when it's usually an opinion, speculation, or interpretation of someone else's findings. If you want to correct someone, try talking to them like a person, not like an armchair professor without the credentials. &quot;Actually&quot; is not only a crutch, but a signal to others to stop listening.</p> <h2>4. &quot;Awesome&quot;</h2> <p>It's time to cut all those excessive superlatives from our vocabularies. Describing things, people, and places as &quot;awesome&quot; or &quot;totally rad&quot; or &quot;way cool&quot; all the time betrays a lack of adjectives in your arsenal. With too much use, you could also appear immature and lacking in perspective. If everything is awesome or it sucks, are you capable of observing nuance in the world? Your friends certainly won't think so.</p> <h2>5. &quot;Random&quot;</h2> <p>Our everyday lives are mostly a sequence of cause and effect, right? Calling something or someone &quot;random&quot; on its face is a meaningless comment. Is what you witnessed absurd, surreal, or otherwise strange? Attempt to describe it without calling it &quot;random,&quot; which makes you sound like a teenager. There's nothing worse than discussing a topic with someone who displays zero points of reference or bases for comparison.</p> <p><em>Any other words to add to this list? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-everyday-words-that-are-making-you-look-stupid">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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="http://www.wisebread.com/you-are-what-you-do-16-ways-to-improve-your-body-language">You Are What You Do: 16 Ways to Improve Your Body Language</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="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-you-were-raised-by-parents-with-bad-social-skills">5 Signs You Were Raised by Parents With Bad Social Skills</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="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-communicate-better-today">25 Ways to Communicate Better Today</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="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-get-people-to-listen-when-you-talk">7 Ways to Get People to Listen When You Talk</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="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-say-no-to-friends-and-family">5 Ways to Say &quot;No&quot; to Friends and Family</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development appearance communication resolutions social skills vocabulary Tue, 13 Jan 2015 12:00:07 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1278205 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Reasons January Is the Right Time to Start Planning for Christmas http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-january-is-the-right-time-to-start-planning-for-christmas <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-reasons-january-is-the-right-time-to-start-planning-for-christmas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-thinking-christmas-Dollarphotoclub_57994542.jpg" alt="woman thinking christmas" title="woman thinking christmas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>To ensure that I always spend the last month of the year relaxing, I start prepping for the holidays in January.</p> <p>I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out.</p> <p>December has always been the big travel month for me. When I was a single lady, celebrating New Year's Eve overseas was my yearly tradition. As a married lady, my husband and I still try and reserve the month of December for vacations. What this means is that I have no time in December to waste on holiday prep.</p> <p>Here's how I get it all done earlier in the year.</p> <h2>1. It's All on Display So I Might as Well Look It Over Now</h2> <p>January is the perfect time to purge unloved decorations. Instead of mindlessly packing away all the Christmas lights, decorations, and ornaments in a post-holiday stupor, I take the time now to sort through my Christmas supplies. Before I stuff things back into the garage, I ask myself if I really love and use everything that I am storing for the next 11 months. For example, my husband brought beautiful mantel hooks into our marriage. I loved them, but our current house doesn't have a fireplace, so I sold them to a neighbor. No mantel also means we have no place to hang Christmas stockings either. Out they went. Also, why spend the time hanging and removing Christmas lights every year when we can use the white twinkle lights year round to light our garden? My husband loves decorating the house for Christmas, but we've gone from four bins down to one bin of holiday supplies that we have to store every year.</p> <h2>2. January Is the Perfect Time to Declutter the House</h2> <p>Why is my New Year's Resolution always &quot;Get organized?&quot; Because I live in a tiny house with two tiny closets, it's always a challenge to find space to store anything in Dinky Manor. I use my holiday gifts as a way to jumpstart my organizing goals for the year. Since I literally have to get rid of things to make space for new gifts, January is always about assessing what material goods actually bring joy to my life right now as opposed to more dusting.</p> <p>On a side note, since books are my storage Waterloo, every year on New Year's Day I host a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-potluck-parties-that-help-you-share-the-wealth">book swap party</a> for all my favorite bookworms. Everyone brings the books that have been cluttering their shelves and dumps them on the communal table. Party guests take home whatever books they want for free. All the leftover books are donated to the Public Library Book Drive. I try to start every year with one empty shelf so I have space for new ideas.</p> <h2>3. After Christmas Sales Are the Work of the Clutter Devil</h2> <p>Many money advisers talk up buying Christmas supplies for next Christmas during January's post-Christmas sales as a way to save on the holiday budget. While January is definitely the time to stock up on cheap replacement twinkle lights, I make every effort to resist buying holiday specific décor, wrapping paper, or stationery, regardless of how deeply discounted the sale prices, because then I have to find a place to store it all year.</p> <p>More importantly, shiny wrapping paper isn't recyclable. It becomes garbage very quickly. Instead of buying wrapping paper, I try to find <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reusable-gift-wrapping-the-wrap-that-keeps-on-giving">greener alternatives</a>. And, nothing is cheaper than something I already own.</p> <p>For the record I will state that there is no shame is ironing the wrinkles out of used tissue paper.</p> <p>I'm also a fan of wrapping luxury gifts like jewelry and cashmere sweaters in cereal boxes or tea tins for an extra layer of surprise. This year I used pages from the Arabic edition of the Financial Times, National Geographic maps, and old color copies of film location photos to wrap gifts.</p> <h2>4. Transform This Year's Cards Into Next Year's New Holiday Ephemera</h2> <p>I know. Even by my own standards Christmas cards are a waste of trees and money. But I love stationery. Also, I can't decorate my home with holiday e-mails.</p> <p>Since I'm a <strike>masochist</strike> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-awesome-practically-free-upcycled-craft-projects">crafty up-cycler</a>, I use old Christmas cards to create new cards with careful cutting and pasting. This year I went crazy with the glitter and the wavy scissors and turned some vintage Christmas cards into large gift tags that double as ornaments. (I got huge compliments on these.) Old cards and advent calendars can also be folded into gift boxes or holiday envelopes for wrapping small things.</p> <p>Instead of buying separate thank you cards, I cut the fronts off old Christmas cards and use them as holiday thank you postcards. (This requires some organization to avoid &quot;regifting&quot; cards to their original senders!)</p> <p>Used cards that don't make the literal cut for future Christmas crafts are donated to St. Jude's <a href="https://stjudesranch.org/about-us/recycled-card-program/">Recycled Card Program</a>.</p> <h2>5. It Is Never too Early to Start Making Peace Keeping Gifts</h2> <p>I married into a ginormous Catholic family who <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/gift-giving-hacks-that-will-save-your-money-and-your-sanity">take Christmas very seriously</a>. Early on I figured out that I can avoid uncomfortable conversations with my in-laws by wowing them with homemade gifts. Instead of listening to them talk about politics and death, our small talk is all about my latest relish recipe or how the shawl I made was the perfect Alaskan cruise accessory. For many people, knitting is seasonal because who wants to hold a furry, wool blanket on her lap when it's 100 degrees outside? Unfortunately, last-minute holiday knitting comes at a price for me: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I now practice preemptive needlework and complete one gift project a month, even in the dead heat of summer, instead of ruining my wrists by cramming it in when the temperatures dips in the fall.</p> <p>I also rely on easy, handmade, non-knitted gifts that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-to-make-deluxe-gifts-for-under-15">cost next to nothing</a> if planned in advance.</p> <h2>6. Saving Money for Holiday Travel Is a Year Long Endeavor</h2> <p>Last year, my husband and I went on a super-tight budget with the goal of paying down the mortgage on my rental property <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-most-valuable-thing-debt-takes-from-you-isnt-money-its-this">ten years early</a>. Although our Easter Island travel plans have been shelved for the foreseeable future due to this goal, we're still planning to fly cross-country to spend Christmas this year with friends and family on the East Coast. We will not be able to afford this trip unless we start budgeting for it <em>now</em>, as we've agreed that we won't take this trip unless we can pay for it without resorting to credit.</p> <p><em>Do you long for a stress-free holiday or do you love the Christmas frenzy? Make your argument in the comments section!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-january-is-the-right-time-to-start-planning-for-christmas">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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-2"> <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="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ideas-for-cheap-festive-fall-decor">12 Ideas for Cheap, Festive, Fall Decor</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="http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-christmas-do-these-9-things-do-you">People Who Love Christmas Do These 9 Things — Do You?</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="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-have-a-no-spend-holiday-season">12 Ways to Have a No-Spend Holiday Season</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="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-the-craziest-christmas-fanatics-do">7 Things the Craziest Christmas Fanatics Do</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="http://www.wisebread.com/8-amazing-board-games-you-can-diy">8 Amazing Board Games You Can DIY</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Organization Christmas DIY Holidays planning resolutions saving Thu, 08 Jan 2015 18:00:19 +0000 Max Wong 1278204 at http://www.wisebread.com 31 Productive Things to Do in January to Start the New Year Off Right http://www.wisebread.com/31-productive-things-to-do-in-january-to-start-the-new-year-off-right <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/31-productive-things-to-do-in-january-to-start-the-new-year-off-right" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-morning-coffee-Dollarphotoclub_73432160.jpg" alt="woman coffee morning" title="woman coffee morning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've got two ways you can play January. One is to sit around on your butt and lament the winter weather; the other is to suck it up, stay active, and get yourself in gear for the rest of the year. You don't need much to accomplish the former, but here are 31 ideas to help you get started on the latter. Your fresh start won't know what hit it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fight-the-post-holiday-blues-20-cheap-ways-to-make-january-special?ref=seealso">20 Cheap Ways to Make January Special</a>)</p> <h2>1. Enjoy the Day Off</h2> <p>It's the first day of the year, and you probably need some downtime after last night's celebration. Feel free to take it. Relax, watch TV, order a pizza. Savor this lazy (but productive in the sense that it's helping you recuperate) day, because you've got 30 days of productivity ahead of you.</p> <h2>2. Hit the Tail-End of the After-Holiday Sales</h2> <p>One of my favorite post-holiday activities is to hit up the after-celebration sales to stock up on decorations and other useful items (think scissors, tape, wrapping papers, bags, and more) that by this date will probably be anywhere from 75% to 90% off the regular price. Pickings will be slim, but you're saving 25% to 40% more than you would have if you went the first few days after Christmas. When you're shopping, remember to think outside the holidays, too. Some of the discounted items are useful year round. Keep that in mind when you're in retail renegade mode.</p> <h2>3. Write Thank-You Notes for Holiday Gifts</h2> <p>Personally, I think a verbal thank-you suffices when you exchange gifts in person, but if you've received a gift in the mail this season, take a few minutes to write a quick note of thanks via postcard or e-mail. The former is a more thoughtful gesture, of course, but I'm never offended by an e-mail thanks. Something is better than nothing, and I'd rather the sender save paper and his or her stamp.</p> <h2>4. Edit Your Social Media Profiles</h2> <p>I recently did a purge of all the photos on my Facebook page that I didn't like, untagged myself from photos I didn't like on other people's pages, and I whittled down my friends list a bit by removing a few folks that I've never heard of before in my life.</p> <h2>5. Take Down Your Holiday Decorations</h2> <p>Did you know that January 5th is widely considered to be the day when holiday decorations should come down? It's all based on the 12 days of Christmas (it's not just a song, y'all), which is steeped in a&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Days_of_Christmas">long history of religious tradition</a>.</p> <h2>6. Organize the Basement/Attic/Garage</h2> <p>While you're moving your holiday boxes back into their respective storage places, take the time to organize the rest of the space. Pace yourself though. If you have all three of these areas &mdash; basement, attic, garage &mdash; there's no harm in spreading the work out over a few days to a week.</p> <h2>7. Clean Out Your Closet</h2> <p>You probably received more than a few new pieces of clothing over the holidays (either as gifts from someone you love, or as presents to yourself; I'm very guilty of the latter), so to ensure that your closet doesn't start spilling out from the seams, take stock of what you like and wear, and then collect all the unwanted items to sell. I unload a lot of my old clothing at my twice-yearly yard sales, but donating the clothes to the needy is another option.</p> <h2>8. Raid Your Pantry for Expired Food</h2> <p>Non-perishables perish, believe it or not, and I'm willing to bet that there are items in your pantry that are no longer safe (or delicious enough) to eat. Take an hour or so to empty it, examine the labels, and toss out whatever has expired. Also take a good look at what's close to its expiration date so you can make a conscious effort to use it to avoid wasting any more money.</p> <h2>9. Defrost and Clean Freezer and Fridge</h2> <p>This is one of my least favorite chores, but there's something about a clean fridge and freezer that satisfies me inside. This also is a great opportunity to toss out any expired foods and/or anything you know you're probably not going to eat.</p> <h2>10. Tidy up Your Medicine Cabinet</h2> <p>Just like food, medications have expiration dates. Go through your medicine cabinet and remove all expired items, toss out anything that only exists to take up space, and re-organize what's left so it's easily accessed.</p> <h2>11. Give the House a Deep Clean</h2> <p>Now that you've tackled some of the more time-consuming small areas of your home that require specialized attention, it's time to do the dreaded deep clean. This often means getting down on your hands and knees to scrubs toilets, and floors and baseboards, and on ladders to clean ceiling fans and blinds &mdash; but you can do it. Besides, it's freezing outside; would you rather be cleaning the gutters?</p> <h2>12. Rearrange Your Furniture</h2> <p>Besides giving your living space a fresh feel, there are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-creativity-cure/201404/rearranging-the-furniture-makes-me-feel-better-2">bonafide psychological benefits</a>&nbsp;to rearranging your furniture. Move a chair here; put a lamp there. You might be surprised at how much this simple fix can improve your mood &mdash; which might be a much-needed pick-me-up this time of year.</p> <h2>13. Check in With Your Boss/Work Team</h2> <p>With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, you may not have had an ideal opportunity to get down to actual business with your boss and co-workers. The beginning of the year is perfect for reconvening after a period of relaxation to talk about where everybody's at work-wise and plan ahead.</p> <h2>14. Update Your Pet's Health Info</h2> <p>Check in on your pet's health status by revisiting your files to make sure all vaccines and tags are up-to-date. If your pet hasn't been to the vet in a while, schedule a routine check-up.</p> <h2>15. Schedule a Physical</h2> <p>After your furbabies receive a clean bill of health, it's time to get yours. Make an appointment with your doctor to make sure everything is in working order. Use this time to discuss with him or her any issues you've been having and any prescriptions you need refilled.</p> <h2>16. Tune-up Your Vehicle</h2> <p>Hopefully your car is already winterized &mdash; you don't want to cause damage to your vehicle by facilitating avoidable issues that can arise from neglecting it &mdash; but you still need to get an oil change from time to time (check your owner's manual!). It's probably that time again.</p> <h2>17. Update Your DVR</h2> <p>At the beginning of the fall TV season, I create season passes for all the new shows I want to watch. By now, however, I've either lost interest in a few of them or they've been canceled. I know I'm not alone. Take 10 minutes to delete unwanted shows from your queue and cancel the season passes in which you're no longer interested.</p> <h2>18. Plan a Date With Your Partner</h2> <p>You don't want to get so wrapped up in being productive this month that you forget about your significant other. Plan a date for you two to spend several quality hours together enjoying each other's company and catching up with one another's lives.</p> <h2>19. Create a List of Goals for the Year</h2> <p>Having the intentions to work toward positive goals and actually planning for them are two completely different things. Exchange more talk for more doing this year by creating a list of goals that you'd like to achieve along with an outline of your plan to achieve them.</p> <h2>20. Learn Something New</h2> <p>You can learn the darndest things with the flick of a finger these days. Skip the cute cat videos on YouTube and search for something useful that'll leave you with a new skill after watching it.</p> <h2>21. Make a Two-Week Meal Calendar With Recipes</h2> <p>I've talked about this tip in several posts, and I keep bringing it up because it's truly changed the way I eat. Instead of blindly going grocery shopping, buying food, and then deciding what I'll make with it after I get home, I've reversed the process. Now I plan ahead of time what I'll make for dinner by adding two weeks' worth of recipes to a calendar and create a shopping list of ingredients based on those recipes (and nothing more!), so I can eat healthy meals on a regular basis. Having this structure in place has cut down on the amount of food waste in my house as well as the number of pizzas ordered because I can't decide what to make for dinner. I've also dropped 15 pounds (exercise helped, too), which I hope will give you more incentive to give this a try.</p> <h2>22. Clip Coupons for Your Next Shopping Trip</h2> <p>Before you head to the supermarket with your very healthy shopping list, clip those coupons. I round up coupons from circulars, past shopping trips, online resources, and apps to ensure that I'm maximizing my food savings as much as I can.</p> <h2>23. List for Sale Your Unwanted Items of Value</h2> <p>If you're feeling the pinch in January (because who isn't?), a great way to make some extra cash is to go through your home (while you're cleaning if you want to kill two birds with one stone) and round up all those odds and ends that you no longer need or want. If any of these items have value (electronics, accessories, appliances, etc.), decide how you'll sell them. Craigslist is a great place for larger items, while Amazon and eBay are ideal for smaller, lightweight pieces.</p> <h2>24. Deliver Remaining Unwanted Items to Donation Centers</h2> <p>After you've determined what you can sell, send all the other unwanted clutter to the donation center so that it can live a second life as someone else's.</p> <h2>25. Scan Old Photos Into the Computer</h2> <p>Unless you were born after 2007, you likely have albums and boxes and drawers full of actual paper pictures &mdash; and you're probably wondering what the heck you're going to do with them. One option is to scan the photos onto the computer so you can keep them in a file or in the cloud for forever safekeeping. You can do this daunting task manually (it's the cheapest way), or you can send your photos away to a company (of which there are plenty) that will do this for you.</p> <h2>26. Consolidate and Clean up Computer Files</h2> <p>Adding so many large photo files to your computer is going to eat up a lot of space, so you've got to make up for that somehow. Take this opportunity to delete unwanted files, consolidate stragglers, and otherwise organize your computer in a more concise, easy-to-access manner.</p> <h2>27. De-Clutter Your Office/Desk</h2> <p>Clean your desk the same way you cleaned your computer &mdash; decide, discard, dust. Seriously, you don't need all that nonsense that you keep year in and year out.</p> <h2>28. Set up a Dentist Appointment</h2> <p>You only get one set of teeth. Take care of them.</p> <h2>29. Establish a Fitness Plan</h2> <p>Six months ago I decided to get my health in check after years of a leading a sedentary lifestyle that severely damaged my self-confidence. I established a goal weight, created an exercise plan to help achieve it, and completely revamped my diet. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't very delicious &mdash; at first. Now that it's part of my normal routine, I've learned how to live healthy and love it. I feel and look better than I have in many years (since high school actually), and if I can do it, then so can you.</p> <h2>30. Reevaluate Your Debt and Establish a Plan of Action</h2> <p>Unless you're going into the New Year completely debt free, now is the time to take a good, long look at your finances and make a solid plan to improve your situation. One of my friends recently told me that she always makes this a part of her New Year's to-dos.</p> <p>&quot;We look at what we saved last year, areas we need to improve on, any debts we need to knock out this year, and big expenses we might need to plan for also,&quot; she says. &quot;By no means is this the only time we talk about finances, but it prepares us mentally for what we want to accomplish.&quot;</p> <h2>31. Prepare Your Tax Materials</h2> <p>Nobody wants to do this. Ever. But I've found that by getting this out of the way sooner rather than later, I stress a whole lot less in a shorter amount of time. In fact, if you wrap it all up by mid-February, you could have your refund (if you get one; my fingers are crossed for you) before the federal tax-filing deadline even arrives. Spring vacation, anyone?</p> <p><em>Do you have other ways to stay productive in the first month of the year so that the rest of it can run smoothly? Let us know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/31-productive-things-to-do-in-january-to-start-the-new-year-off-right">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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="http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year">4 Money Resolutions You Should Skip This Year</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="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-saving-new-years-goals-that-you-can-actually-keep">10 Money-Saving New Year&#039;s Goals That You Can Actually Keep</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="http://www.wisebread.com/successful-new-years-resolutions-have-this-one-thing-in-common-does-yours">Successful New Year&#039;s Resolutions Have This One Thing in Common — Does Yours?</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="http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">8 Financial Decisions You&#039;ll Never Regret</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="http://www.wisebread.com/5-everyday-words-that-are-making-you-look-stupid">5 Everyday Words That Are Making You Look Stupid</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development goals january New Year resolutions to-do Thu, 01 Jan 2015 12:00:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1275494 at http://www.wisebread.com 25 Bite-Sized Money Resolutions to Make 2015 Your Biggest Year Yet http://www.wisebread.com/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="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/dollar-bills-2015-Dollarphotoclub_67129525.jpg" 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="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=inarticle">cash-back</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards?ref=inarticle">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="http://www.hotcouponworld.com/forums/coupon.php">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="https://www.mint.com/">Mint.com</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="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00009MDBU/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;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="http://www.pricegrabber.com/">PriceGrabber</a>, <a href="http://www.pricewatch.com/">Pricewatch</a> or another resource before buying.</p> <h2>18. Sign Up for a Rebate Site</h2> <p><a href="http://www.ebates.com/">Ebates</a> or <a href="http://www.mrrebates.com/">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="http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-2822544-10788528">Groupon</a> and <a href="http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-2822544-11429060">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="http://www.guidestar.org/">GuideStar</a> or <a href="http://www.charitynavigator.org/">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="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-bite-sized-money-resolutions-to-make-2015-your-biggest-year-yet">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">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="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-make-retail-therapy-good-for-you">5 Ways to Make Retail Therapy Good for You</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="http://www.wisebread.com/lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate-and-reduce-your-phone-bill-immediately-and-easily">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="http://www.wisebread.com/oprah-asks-a-great-question-what-can-you-live-without">Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?</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="http://www.wisebread.com/never-use-cash-for-these-11-things">Never Use Cash for These 11 Things</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 http://www.wisebread.com 10 Money-Saving New Year's Goals That You Can Actually Keep http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-saving-new-years-goals-that-you-can-actually-keep <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-money-saving-new-years-goals-that-you-can-actually-keep" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-thinking-piggy-bank-Dollarphotoclub_41216910.jpg" alt="woman thinking piggy bank" title="woman thinking piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Can you believe it's almost 2015? I certainly can't, but I'm already mulling over my resolutions list for the coming year. After the parties end, the champagne is served, and the ball drops, some of us have some major catching up to do financially. So, here are 10 money-saving goals to ring in the new year.</p> <h2>1. Start Cooking</h2> <p>Getting a hot meal on the dinner table is difficult during the week, and often we used to resort to ordering pizza or eating out, spending way over our food budget each month. Taking a few extra minutes to pack lunch at night can save $10 or more per day. Set a goal this year to cook more with the food you have on hand. Meal planning is the key here, so get out your favorite recipes and cookbooks and write a plan for the week. You can shave dollars off your grocery bill by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">learning which ingredients</a> give you more bang for your buck, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-eat-well-on-just-20-a-week-with-meal-plans?ref=seealso">How to Eat Well on Just $20 a Week</a>)</p> <h2>2. DIY Your Pantry</h2> <p>And if you're interested in learning to cook, consider extending the fun to your pantry. Making your own ingredients at home is both fun and frugal (<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-grocery-items-you-should-make-at-home-and-5-to-buy">here's how</a>). You can take your cooking and baking skills to another level and also eat healthier foods when you control their ingredients. And without all the packaging and store markups, you'll be taking more than a few pennies off the cost.</p> <h2>3. Take a &quot;No New Clothing&quot; Challenge</h2> <p>I challenged myself to stop buying new clothes for an entire year back in 2010. It was hard, but in the end I got used to working with what I already own. It helps to have a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-essential-pieces-for-your-capsule-wardrobe">minimalist wardrobe</a> to begin with, and the rest is self control and avoiding fashion trends. You will definitely save some major bucks if you can curb your regular spending &mdash; and you don't have to eschew purchases altogether. Consider reducing your yearly clothing expense by ⅓ to start.</p> <h2>4. Track Your (Actual) Spending</h2> <p>Most of us have a budget, at least in theory &mdash; but few of us know precisely where the money goes. Start the year off right by recalculating your monthly totals and tracking your spending. Not only does this exercise help you be more mindful with your money, but it also allows you to see where you can cut and save. While you're at it, make sure there aren't any stray bills hitting your account (old subscriptions, unused gym memberships, etc.), and you might see savings right away. Use tools like Mint to track your progress. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-mindless-ways-youre-spending-money?ref=seealso">10 Mindless Ways You're Spending Money</a>)</p> <h2>5. Organize Yourself</h2> <p>Getting my house (and my life) better organized is one of my personal goals for this year. And there are lots of areas of focus here. For example, by keeping better track of your mail, you'll have fewer unpaid bills and late fees. By cleaning your pantry and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-you-maximize-fridge-and-freezer-space">organizing your refrigerator</a>, you'll have less food spoilage and waste. Neatly folding and hanging clothes will allow you to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-washing-your-clothes-too-often-what-to-do-instead">wash them less often </a>and save money on both resources (electricity, water, etc.) and new clothing purchases. The list goes on.</p> <h2>6. Get Fit</h2> <p>Many gyms see a traffic surge of <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/01/this-is-why-you-dont-go-to-the-gym/251332/">up to 50%</a> in January, only to find a steep decline after those origination payments are made. Skip the pricey gym and workout at home. Jogging and walking are virtually free, so sign up for a 5K or join a neighborhood runner's club. And there are many other <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-at-home-exercises-will-give-you-a-gym-quality-workout-for-free">types of body weight routines</a> you can do &mdash; for free &mdash; right in the comfort of your living room. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-online-workout-videos-for-free-or-cheap?ref=seealso">7 Online Workout Videos for Free or Cheap</a>)</p> <h2>7. Lean Out TV</h2> <p>Along with getting more active and exercising regularly, you can also cancel your cable subscription. In fact, the average cable bill could hit a staggering <a href="http://time.com/money/2987833/comcast-cancel-ryan-block-time-warner-att-directv-cable-bill-save/">$123 per month</a> this year. Without hundreds of channels at your disposal, you might feel more inclined to get off the couch and get moving. You'll have more time for other areas of your life, like cooking and organizing. If you just have to watch, consider alternatives like Hulu and Netflix, which allow you to be more intentional with your time and conservative with your dollars.</p> <h2>8. Clip Coupons</h2> <p>I'm sure you've heard stories of people walking into the store and leaving with several carts full of stuff for $0. While stories like these sound extreme, learning to clip coupons can mean <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/couponing-hobby-or-lifestyle">an entire lifestyle</a> of savings. And if you play your cards right, you can indeed see some impressive rewards. Try paying it forward by sharing your loot &mdash; here are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-places-to-donate-extra-goods-from-couponing">13 places to donate extra goods from couponing</a>.</p> <h2>9. Simplify Your Routine</h2> <p>Women spend an estimated <a href="http://www.today.com/health/stop-obsessing-women-waste-2-weeks-year-their-appearance-today-2D12104866">55 minutes each day</a> on their looks (that calculates to around two weeks per year!). And not only that, but think of all the money spent on manicures, pedicures, haircuts, colors, and other spa treatments that pile up monthly. Men aren't immune either. You can greatly simplify your routine and use fewer chemical-laden soaps and creams by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-amazing-easy-diy-bath-and-body-products">making some of your own</a> bath and body products.</p> <h2>10. Go Debt Free</h2> <p>If you're able, try <a href="http://www.johnnymoneyseed.com/debt-free/guide-becoming-really-really-ridiculously-debt-free/">going debt free</a> this year &mdash; you may not erase all your debt in 12 months, but you'll make important progress and transform your money mindset. Start by listing all your debts, interest rates, and any other pertinent information. Set payoff goals that are measurable and attainable. Sink funds into those balances starting with the highest APRs and work your way down. Trade in or sell your high ticket items to help pay off debt in larger chunks. And stick with it because &mdash; seriously &mdash; being debt free is totally, completely awesome. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-false-assumptions-about-debt-free-living?ref=seealso">6 False Assumptions About Debt-Free Living</a>)</p> <p><em>What money-savings goals do you have for 2015?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-saving-new-years-goals-that-you-can-actually-keep">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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-4"> <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="http://www.wisebread.com/10-types-of-friends-who-are-costing-you-money">10 Types of Friends Who Are Costing You Money</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="http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year">4 Money Resolutions You Should Skip This Year</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="http://www.wisebread.com/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</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="http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">8 Financial Decisions You&#039;ll Never Regret</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="http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Personal Development cost cutting goals resolutions saving spending Mon, 29 Dec 2014 14:00:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1272418 at http://www.wisebread.com Successful New Year's Resolutions Have This One Thing in Common — Does Yours? http://www.wisebread.com/successful-new-years-resolutions-have-this-one-thing-in-common-does-yours <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/successful-new-years-resolutions-have-this-one-thing-in-common-does-yours" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/new-years-resolutions-notes-Dollarphotoclub_73113952.jpg" alt="new years resolutions notes" title="new years resolutions notes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>About <a href="http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/">45% of Americans make New Year's Resolutions</a>, little wishes with wings sent out into the universe on high hopes that they'll come true. Yet only 8% of all resolutions are successful before the year's end, and more than half of them are forfeited within six weeks.</p> <p>It's a grim forecast, but don't be dissuaded. Research shows that we're more apt to achieve our goals and aspirations if we set out to do so on the first of the year. Chalk it up to the &quot;fresh start effect&quot; &mdash; <a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2204126">that little boost of willpower our psyche lends us</a> when we attempt something new or difficult on a clean slate. Timing isn't everything, but when it comes to achieving our goals, it's truly half the battle. So just by timing your resolution with the new year you're giving yourself an instant leg-up. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-effective-times-for-setting-a-new-goal">The 4 Most Effective Times for Setting a New Goal</a>)</p> <p>But how do you ensure that your New Year's Resolution lands among the successful 8%?</p> <p>Here's the scientifically-backed secret.</p> <h2>The Secret Is Focus</h2> <p>What all successful resolutions have in common is that they are focused, singular goals (not a long laundry list) equipped with a step-by-step plan of execution. (Hope is not a plan, as the saying goes.)</p> <p>Here's why this formula works.</p> <p>Most resolutions (eat healthier, exercise more, make better financial decisions, call Mom once a week, etc.) require that a person <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/hea/29/4/374/">break one habit and replace it</a> with a healthier or more desirable one. In order to adopt a new habit, it's crucial to have a game plan outlining exactly how this new, desired behavior will be integrated into daily life. And <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201212/why-new-years-resolutions-fail">it must include small steps</a> that will eventually lead you to reach your end goal.</p> <p>So when you sit down to brainstorm your resolution, remember to settle on just one goal, and make is specific. Examples of specific, singular goals include quit smoking (versus adopt a healthier lifestyle), host a monthly family dinner (versus spend more time with family), join and become active in an online dating community (versus fall in love), and build a $5,000 financial safety net (versus spend less, save more).</p> <h2>Next Comes the Plan</h2> <p>Once you've hacked any semblance of vagueness out of your resolution, it's time to map out your plan of attack &mdash; complete with benchmarks, timetables, and rewards.</p> <p>If your resolution is to lose 40 pounds, decide exactly what exercises you'll do, where and when you'll do them, and what behaviors you'll nix in their stead. For example, you might decide that you'll go snowshoeing around the park for 45 minutes three times a week with a podcast in your ears rather than watch your usual morning television news show from the couch. And don't forget to reward yourself with a new purchase or fun weekend outing for each month of 100% success. Even the smallest of rewards goes a long way to motivate a difficult change in behavior.</p> <p><em>What are your resolutions this year? How will to stick with them? Please motivate us to complete ours in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/successful-new-years-resolutions-have-this-one-thing-in-common-does-yours">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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-5"> <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="http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year">4 Money Resolutions You Should Skip This Year</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="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-saving-new-years-goals-that-you-can-actually-keep">10 Money-Saving New Year&#039;s Goals That You Can Actually Keep</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="http://www.wisebread.com/you-can-too-7-amazing-things-people-have-accomplished-in-under-a-year">You Can Too: 7 Amazing Things People Have Accomplished in Under a Year</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="http://www.wisebread.com/31-productive-things-to-do-in-january-to-start-the-new-year-off-right">31 Productive Things to Do in January to Start the New Year Off Right</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="http://www.wisebread.com/25-bite-sized-money-resolutions-to-make-2015-your-biggest-year-yet">25 Bite-Sized Money Resolutions to Make 2015 Your Biggest Year Yet</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development goal setting goals new years resolutions Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:00:07 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1270662 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Money Resolutions You Should Skip This Year http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/buying-new-car-Dollarphotoclub_53578392_0.jpg" alt="couple buying new car" title="couple buying new car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With 2015 just around the corner, it's time to plan ahead to set yourself up for success in the New Year. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moves-you-need-to-make-before-the-end-of-the-year?ref=seealso">10 Money Moves You Need to Make Before the End of the Year</a>)</p> <p>However, not all money resolutions are good ones. Some of them might become an obstacle towards your financial wellbeing and, even worse, undo any benefits that you accumulate throughout the year.</p> <p>Let's start the New Year with a bang by avoiding these four bad money resolutions.</p> <h2>1. Buying a Brand New Car</h2> <p>New year, new you. So, by extension &mdash; new year, new car, right? Not so fast.</p> <p>From a purely financial perspective, a new car is always a bad idea because a car loses over 10% of its value in the first year due to depreciation. A car is not an investment because it virtually always loses money due to maintenance, insurance, and registration costs. According to Edmunds.com, a $25,000 new automobile purchase generates an estimated total cost of $33,604.</p> <p>It's true that the average interest rate on a 60-month new car loan is now lower than in the last five years, but that's not the full picture. As more Americans are taking out car loans, the prices of cars are increasing. This means that the <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/031914/americans-are-borrowing-more-buy-cars-should-they-be.asp">average car loan principal is getting larger and larger.</a></p> <p>By purchasing a car that is over a year old, you avoid the 10% depreciation hit and the higher tax and insurance costs. It's a good idea to buy used cars from a dealership that you trust and that offers a comprehensive warranty. Remember that <a href="http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0055-buying-used-car#warranties">not all automobile warranties are equal</a>.</p> <p>Also, consider buying a car only when you can pay cash for it. Assuming a loan balance of $20,000 and a car loan rate of 5%, you would pay $1,000 in interest in the first year. That money would be better used towards paying down other debts. However, If you are in dire need of a reliable vehicle and need to take out a car loan, then limit your monthly car payment to <a href="http://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/how-to-buy-a-car.html">20% of your monthly income after taxes</a>.</p> <h2>2. Withholding (Too Much) Taxes</h2> <p>Here's the scenario: When you file your taxes at the very last minute in April, you suddenly realize that you owe Uncle Sam a lot more than you expected. You promise yourself this won't ever happen again, so you update your W-4 form with your employer to withhold more than last year. The problem is that now you withhold way more than it's actually necessary. In fact, every year, <a href="http://business.time.com/2013/03/18/why-were-so-irrational-when-it-comes-to-tax-refunds/">75% of Americans withhold too much tax</a>.</p> <p>It's a good idea to withhold a <em>little bit</em> extra in order to avoid owing taxes on April 15th. But the average tax refund in 2013 was over $2,800, meaning that &quot;little bit extra&quot; was probably too much. The IRS isn't a bank and it won't pay you interest for your taxes. You're better off withholding the right amount of taxes and putting the extra in an interest-bearing savings account.</p> <p>Updating your W-4 takes very little time. Before filling it out, figure out <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/IRS-Withholding-Calculator">how much you need to withhold in federal taxes</a> based on your income and set your W-4 accordingly.</p> <h2>3. Saving &quot;More&quot;</h2> <p>In theory, this sounds great. In reality, you're setting yourself for failure by not defining any specifics. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-your-new-years-resolutions-will-fail?ref=seealso">Why Your New Year's Resolutions Will Fail</a>)</p> <ul> <li>How much is exactly &quot;more&quot;? $100? $1,000? $5,000?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>What is your time frame? Summer? Your birthday? Christmas?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do your other resolutions prevent you from saving? If you're planning to join a gym and bike to the office, are you going to have money leftover?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Are you cutting back on other expenses? If so, which ones?</li> </ul> <p>The concept of &quot;go big or go home&quot; doesn't apply to saving. If you want to improve your chances of saving this year, you need to be as specific as possible.</p> <ul> <li>Establish your reason to save. For example, &quot;I'm saving for a mortgage down payment&quot; or &quot;I'm saving to replace my desktop computer.&quot;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Specify a dollar amount. Unless you have that number, you won't be able to know if you have reached your objective.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Calculate how much you need to put away per week or per month to achieve your target number.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to a separate account, such as a savings account, every week or month to force yourself to save.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take advantage of mechanisms to block the access to your stash until the deadline. For example, if you're saving to buy Christmas gifts with cash, you could use a Christmas savings account (also known as a &quot;Christmas Club&quot; at some credit unions).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Determine what activities and expenses you need to cut back. Remember that the savings money has to come from somewhere!</li> </ul> <h2>4. Borrowing From Your Retirement Accounts</h2> <p>More and more Americans are treating their retirement accounts as revolving lines of credit.</p> <p>There are several statistics that show why borrowing from your retirement account is a bad idea:</p> <ul> <li>As many as <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/168824/fewer-rely-401-retirement-pre-recession.aspx">48% of non-retirees</a> are planning to use retirement saving accounts as a major source of income during retirement;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Yet, Americans took about <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-06/early-tap-of-401-k-replaces-homes-as-american-piggy-bank.html">$57 billion from retirement funds</a> before they were supposed to;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Even worse, every year Americans default on <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/17/retirement/401k-loan-defaults/">about $37 billion on 401(k) loans</a>;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Unpaid balances become part of your taxable income and receive an additional 10% tax penalty from the IRS.</li> </ul> <p>This partly explains why <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/shocking-number-of-americans-have-no-retirement-savings/">more than one-third of al</a>l<a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/shocking-number-of-americans-have-no-retirement-savings/"> working-age adults have no retirement savings</a>. There are very few times when it makes sense to borrow from your retirement account. If you find yourself borrowing from retirement accounts, you need to resolve to kick this habit next year. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-when-you-should-borrow-from-your-retirement-account?ref=seealso">This is When You Should Borrow From Your Retirement Account</a>)</p> <p>Let's start 2015 on the right foot!</p> <p><em>What are some other bad money resolutions to skip next year? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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-6"> <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="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-saving-new-years-goals-that-you-can-actually-keep">10 Money-Saving New Year&#039;s Goals That You Can Actually Keep</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="http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">8 Financial Decisions You&#039;ll Never Regret</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="http://www.wisebread.com/21-ways-to-make-a-big-financial-change">21 Ways to Make a Big Financial Change</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="http://www.wisebread.com/31-productive-things-to-do-in-january-to-start-the-new-year-off-right">31 Productive Things to Do in January to Start the New Year Off Right</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="http://www.wisebread.com/successful-new-years-resolutions-have-this-one-thing-in-common-does-yours">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> Personal Finance Frugal Living Personal Development goals money goals resolutions Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:00:16 +0000 Damian Davila 1270229 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Financial Moves You Must Make in 2014 http://www.wisebread.com/7-financial-moves-you-must-make-in-2014 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-financial-moves-you-must-make-in-2014" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/finances-156416606.jpg" alt="finances" title="finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The New Year is upon us, and if you didn&#39;t reach all your financial goals in 2013, here&#39;s your opportunity to start fresh.</p> <p>Maybe you&#39;re tired of being broke or feel that you haven&#39;t given your savings account much attention. You can&#39;t undo the past, but you can improve your future. Here are seven financial moves to make in 2014. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-worst-tax-moves-you-can-make?ref=seealso">10 Worst Tax Moves You Can Make</a>)</p> <h2>1. Aim for a Three- to Six-Month Cash Reserve</h2> <p>If you barely have enough in your savings to cover living expenses for one or two weeks, you need to get serious about saving money.</p> <p>No one is immune to a job layoff, and a pink slip can come out of nowhere. A three- to six-month cash reserve, in conjunction with any unemployment compensation, could be the thing that prevents financial ruin.</p> <p>Start by always &quot;paying yourself first&quot;&nbsp;&mdash; putting money in savings before you can spend it. Then review your budget to see where you can cut back and save more. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-make-yourself-save-more-money?ref=seealso">Ways to Make Yourself Save More Money</a>)</p> <h2>2. Get Rid of High Interest Credit Cards</h2> <p>A credit card in your wallet is great for emergencies. But it doesn&#39;t do you much good if you&#39;re paying a crazy high interest rate. Take a look at your credit card statements. If you have good credit, yet you&#39;re paying more than a 13% rate, start shopping for a new card. With a high score you should easily qualify for a rate of 10% or lower, or perhaps a card with a 0% introductory rate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Best Low Interest Rate Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>3. Pay Down Debt</h2> <p>Nothing good comes from excessive credit card debt. Too much consumer debt lowers your credit score, and if you apply for a loan or credit card, a high credit utilization ratio can trigger a rejection. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-worst-ways-to-pay-off-your-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso">Worst Ways to Pay Off Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>Get serious about debt elimination and devise a plan to pay down your credit cards. Even if you can only increase your minimum payments by a small amount, something is better than nothing. Cut your cards in half to eliminate any spending temptation, and apply your disposable cash (after feeding your savings account) and bonus cash to debt.</p> <h2>4. Increase Your Retirement Contributions or Start Preparing for Retirement</h2> <p>If you&#39;re contributing to an employer-sponsored 401(k), look at your finances to see if you can increase your contributions. This can give your retirement savings a boost, especially if your employer matches contributions. And if you haven&#39;t begun retirement planning, make this your year to start. Participate in your employer&#39;s 401(k) plan or speak to a financial planner about starting an IRA. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retirement-planning-if-you-re-under-30?ref=seealso">Retirement Planning for 20-Somethings</a>)</p> <h2>5. Downsize If You&#39;re House Poor</h2> <p>If the majority of your income goes toward housing, and you don&#39;t have cash for savings and extras, accept reality and make plans to downsize in 2014.</p> <p>Whether you&#39;re renting or buying, moving into a smaller, cheaper home can lift a huge burden from your shoulder and provide some wiggle room. And with the extra income you could pay down credit card debt or increase your cash reserves.</p> <h2>6. Identify Bad Spending Habits</h2> <p>Impulse shopping, buying things to keep up with others, and shopping without a list might explain why you have nothing in savings. If you want to take control of your money, you need to recognize where your money goes, and the spending habits that can leave you broke. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-habits-of-financially-happy-people?ref=seealso">Habits of Financially Happy People</a>)</p> <p>Go through your credit card and bank statements. How much did you spend on clothes, dining out, vacations, and electronics during the year? Additionally, determine what motivated these purchases. For example, do you spend when you&#39;re bored or upset? Or do you buy to uphold an image?</p> <p>Understanding why you spend and changing your mindset can help you save in 2014.</p> <h2>7. Order Your Credit Report</h2> <p>Every consumer is entitled to one free credit report each year from <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action">AnnualCreditReport.com</a>. If you didn&#39;t order your report last year, put this on your to-do list for 2014. Or better yet, order your report today. It only takes a few minutes to verify your identity and gain access to your reports.</p> <p>Once your reports are viewable, check to ensure that all accounts are accurate and up-to-date. If you suspect identity theft, there is a link online to file a dispute.</p> <p><em>How do you plan to improve your financial situation in 2014? 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="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-financial-moves-you-must-make-in-2014">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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="http://www.wisebread.com/10-financial-moves-you-can-make-during-your-commute">10 Financial Moves You Can Make During Your Commute</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="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-saving-new-years-goals-that-you-can-actually-keep">10 Money-Saving New Year&#039;s Goals That You Can Actually Keep</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="http://www.wisebread.com/afraid-of-spending-money-here-are-5-perks-of-your-phobia">Afraid of Spending Money? Here Are 5 Perks of Your Phobia</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="http://www.wisebread.com/5-online-tools-to-manage-your-money-in-under-10-minutes-a-week">5 Online Tools to Manage Your Money in Under 10 Minutes a Week</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="http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">8 Financial Decisions You&#039;ll Never Regret</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance money management resolutions saving Fri, 27 Dec 2013 11:25:49 +0000 Mikey Rox 1102864 at http://www.wisebread.com Why Your New Year's Resolutions Will Fail http://www.wisebread.com/why-your-new-years-resolutions-will-fail <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-your-new-years-resolutions-will-fail" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/sleep-dv1782025.jpg" alt="sleeping man" title="sleeping man" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For anyone who has made a New Year&#39;s resolution, setting the goal is the easy part. It&#39;s the part that fitness centers and diet programs, among others, depend on at the beginning of the year. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tips-for-making-resolutions-stick-in-the-new-year?ref=seealso">4 Tips for Making Resolutions Stick</a>)</p> <p>If your goal is to lose weight, many businesses are more than willing to offer their help for an upfront fee. That&#39;s why gyms are full in January but sparse in March.</p> <p>Following through and succeeding at a New Year&#39;s resolution is doomed to fail from the start for most people, mainly because the human brain isn&#39;t designed to handle such resolutions with enough willpower. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-your-big-new-years-resolutions-are-pointless?ref=seealso">Why Big New Year&rsquo;s Resolutions Are Pointless</a>)</p> <h2>Old Habits Are Hard to Break</h2> <p>&quot;The brain is wired to continue doing things like we&#39;ve always done them,&quot; says <a href="http://rimtailing.blogspot.com/">Bruce Sanders</a>, a consumer psychologist. &quot;You&#39;re going to have to break through them if you&#39;re going to be successful at resolutions.&quot;</p> <p>Resolving to change your life on the first day of the year can be overwhelming.</p> <p>&quot;A New Year&#39;s resolution is kind of an empty promise,&quot; says Paul Karoly, a psychology professor at Arizona State University.</p> <p>Whether it&#39;s made while drunk on New Year&#39;s Eve or sober at a doctor&#39;s office after learning about a medical problem that requires a lifestyle change, half of the people who make such resolutions are unable to follow through, Karoly says.</p> <p>One problem is that people assume succeeding at a resolution is a simple, straight-forward solution. &quot;Your habits are very strong and not that easy to break,&quot; he says. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-break-bad-habits?ref=seealso">How to Break Bad Habits</a>)</p> <h2>Willpower Is a Muscle That Needs Fuel and Training</h2> <p>Just like the body, the brain can suffer mental fatigue when overworked, and it won&#39;t have enough energy through willpower to be successful at such long-term goals as resolutions.</p> <p>The prefrontal cortex area of the brain &mdash; right behind the forehead &mdash; deals with willpower. It&#39;s also responsible for staying focused, short-term memory, and solving abstract tasks. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-brain-hacks-for-better-investment-decisions?ref=seealso">Brain Hacks for Better Investment Decisions</a>)</p> <p>An experiment at Stanford University found that the brain can&#39;t generate the willpower needed to accomplish resolutions if too much is going on.</p> <p>A group of undergraduate students were divided into two groups. One was given a two-digit number to remember. The other was given a seven-digit number to remember. After a short walk through the hall, they were offered the choice between two snacks: a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit. The students with seven-digit numbers to remember were twice as likely to pick the slice of chocolate compared to the students with the two-digits.</p> <p>Professor Baba Shiv, who conducted the experiment, suggests that the &quot;cognitive load&quot; required to remember those seven-digits sapped <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/poverty-makes-you-stupid">the brain&#39;s energy for other tasks</a>, such as resisting the allure of the cake.</p> <p>Like many muscles, the prefrontal cortex needs to be trained, and willpower seems to be stronger with more use. This can happen by overcoming one of the central problems of New Year&#39;s resolutions: They&#39;re too vague.</p> <h2>How to Fix Vague Resolutions</h2> <p>&quot;[Resolutions] tend to be too abstract and too big and too unachievable,&quot; says Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist who has a private practice and teaches at California State University Los Angeles.</p> <p>What&#39;s needed, Durvasula says, is breaking the goal into smaller, specific steps that can become habits. &quot;Our brains are eminently distractible,&quot; she says.</p> <p>Instead of resolving to lose weight, set a weekly goal and weigh yourself weekly. Instead of vowing not to eat junk food, eat fruit for breakfast. Don&#39;t just say you&#39;re going to lose weight &mdash; set aside 30 minutes at lunch to go for a walk. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-small-new-year-s-resolutions-you-can-start-today?ref=seealso">Small Resolutions You Can Start Today</a>)</p> <p>Having specific goals also works best for financial resolutions, Sanders says. Instead of resolving to save for a down payment for a house in the new year, put aside $500 to $1,500 each month for it.</p> <p>&quot;That range allows you to feel more successful,&quot; Sanders says.</p> <p>Having too many resolutions on your plate can also be a hindrance. &quot;You&#39;re more likely to persevere if you have one primary goal that you&#39;re saving for,&quot; he says.</p> <h2>January 1st Is the Wrong Day</h2> <p>Instead of starting resolutions on January 1st &mdash; after a hectic month when most people have been knocked off of their usual routines because of the holidays &mdash; start on February 1st, and shoot for a date every month to check progress, Durvasula says.</p> <p>&quot;I think January 1st is the worst possible day to make New Year&#39;s resolutions because everybody is doing it and out of their routine,&quot; she adds.</p> <p>Trying to add something to your daily routine, such as exercising, can be difficult on January 1st because for the previous two weeks or so, most people are out of their normal routine anyway, and adding something else to it can lead to quick failure, Durvasula notes.</p> <p><em>How do you intend to keep your resolutions this year?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/aaron-crowe">Aaron Crowe</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-your-new-years-resolutions-will-fail">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">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="http://www.wisebread.com/5-everyday-words-that-are-making-you-look-stupid">5 Everyday Words That Are Making You Look Stupid</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="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-worst-resolutions-most-of-us-will-make-for-2014">The 6 Worst Resolutions Most of Us Will Make for 2014</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="http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year">4 Money Resolutions You Should Skip This Year</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="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-saving-new-years-goals-that-you-can-actually-keep">10 Money-Saving New Year&#039;s Goals That You Can Actually Keep</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="http://www.wisebread.com/10-must-do-mid-year-resolutions-to-get-you-back-on-track">10 Must-Do Mid-Year Resolutions to Get You Back on Track</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development grit new year resolutions resolutions Fri, 27 Dec 2013 10:37:26 +0000 Aaron Crowe 1103057 at http://www.wisebread.com