Friday, January 13, 2012

Getting Your Finances in Order with New Year's Resolutions

With the New Year here, many people are trying to quickly recover from recent holidays by getting their bank accounts back in the black and paying down those credit cards. However, keeping a strict budget isn't always easy in the New Year. While it may be time for a fresh start, it is also winter, which leads to higher utility costs and generally more driving as colder temps prevents many from walking or biking to work.

Trying to get your financial household back in order doesn't necessarily mean that you need to refuse entertainment and crank down the thermostat. By simply sticking to those New Year's resolutions you made a little over a week ago, you can save yourself several hundred dollars this year alone. A few of the most cost-effective resolutions include:

Shedding Pounds

Perhaps the most popular resolution of 2012 and years past is losing weight. Being overweight has become common in the U.S. leading millions to take the oath to shed extra pounds each year, and sticking to that new diet and exercise regimen can be one of the best ways to get your finances in order.

In addition to saving on food costs, as you will be less inclined to eat out often, can save nearly $10,000 in lifetime health insurance costs. Overweight or obese individuals on average have higher insurance premium costs and higher medical bills due to related conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. So if you want to save yourself money this year and in future years, dedicate yourself to losing any unhealthy pounds.

Going Green

Green is on everyone's mind these days, and to ring in the New Year right, many have chosen to live life a little more sustainably. While some sustainable practices, such as solar paneling or geothermal units, are a substantial investment, there are a few easy and inexpensive measures that can be taken that will also save you on your utility and gas bills.

So in your endeavor to go green this year, consider becoming a one family car, biking more, turning down the thermostat, caulking those windows, or weather stripping those doors. All of these options are either free or only a couple of bucks, and can save you a few hundred dollars a year depending on which you choose.

Giving Up Vices

Whether it be cigarettes, alcohol, or that morning mocha you have to have from your favorite coffee shop, there is no denying that these vices are expensive habits. By simply making your coffee from home or giving up that evening night cap, you can save yourself $100 or more a month, and if you choose to give up smoking you can save yourself over $200 a month or over $1,200 – plenty of extra cash to pay off that credit card.

Making your morning coffee at home is easy and much cheaper, and by giving up alcohol or cigarettes, you can save even more than just the product cost alone. Both have detrimental effects on your health, and by ending smoking now, you can save yourself additional health insurance and medical bill costs in the future.

If you want to get your spending and saving under control this year, creating a budget and adhering to it are great ways to get off on the right foot. However, if you want to further increase your cash flow this year, stick to those resolutions. They'll not only leave you feeling better about your physical or mental well-being, but they will also leave you feeling better about your wallet too.

Maya Szydlowski is a community manager and blogger for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s top dedicated VA lender.

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