Happy New Year!!!

I feel a mix of excitement and trepidation as I ponder my new year’s resolutions while also thinking about a new year of blogs.  So with that, I would like to share my thoughts on some well-loved “F-words” that commonly pop up on the resolution list:

Fitness

Seriously, who doesn’t have some kind of fitness goal in mind as the calendar turns each year?  The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of activity, 5 days per week.  Walking is more than adequate to reap not just a healthier heart but a healthier checking account by much as $2,500 per year! (see the study here)  If you are just getting started with exercise, remember that something is better than nothing, and zero minutes per day can become 30 by adding just one minute each day of this new year.  It helps to have someone to keep you accountable, whether it be a friendly neighbor or an officemate who is willing to vent walk for half the lunch hour.

I have been using the free version of the app MapMyFitness for almost seven years now.  I love seeing the miles and hours pile up (the stats tell me I will log my 5000th mile of running this week!), and I feel good seeing a history of long-term good health despite the short-term setbacks of illnesses and injuries.  Family and friends can see your workouts and leave positive feedback (the ever-important “likes”), and it’s a pleasure to watch friends find their passion and start living the active life they have always imagined.  Activities in the app include golf, bouldering, yard work, and yoga.

Food

And then there is New Year’s dieting.  Learning to cook healthy meals at home while eating out less is most likely to bring about the lasting change people desire.  Our busy households make this a taller order than it sounds.  It may be slow-going when figuring out new recipes, pleasing the picky eaters, and having everything on hand to make meals successful.  However, just like with exercise, time you invest will pay off both on the scale and in your pocketbook.  The national average grocery bill for a family of four is anywhere from $146 to $289 per week, but starting in 2016 most Americans spent an equal amount at restaurants and bars.  That means an average household could save an extra $1000 in an emergency fund in 2019 by shifting a portion of their eating out dollars to the healthier and less expensive option of cooking at home.

If eating (and drinking) out is plaguing your waistline and your budget, here are some places to start for ideas:  eating healthier on a budget$1/meal strategies, meal planning & grocery shopping.  Look for more on this in future blogs.

Finances

A new year, a new budget, and new determination to make it stick.  The lifestyle changes above can have a positive impact on your cash flow, and those changes can reap further benefits if you have a plan.  Tracking your spending and creating your budget puts you ahead of nearly 70% of American households.  From there you can direct your dollars to grow assets and build a more financially secure future.  However, just like exercise and eating habits, financial changes take time.  Don’t beat yourself up if you are starting “in the red”.  Pick one actionable item that moves you in a better direction and do it consistently until it becomes a habit.  Nothing changes if nothing changes!

Faith

Faith and hope are defined in the dictionary as follows:  Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing or a belief not based on proof, and Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation or desire.  Between the year-end plunge of the financial markets and the steady stream of negative political rhetoric, it’s no wonder some people are feeling less than optimistic.  So, I leave you with this passage from my favorite personal finance author, Nick Murray, from his book Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth which applies to all the other topics as well:

“No one can plan for the future — much less invest successfully in it — without believing in that future.  And this becomes my working definition of optimism:  an abiding faith in the future.  And I am not speaking here of starry-eyed optimism or blind faith.  I don’t advocate hope for the future in spite of the present reality, but because of it.

[Our] news coverage seems to me to have shrunk down to one story at a time.  And that story is always, always bad.  There are days on which the news can make a pessimist out of just about anyone.

The fuel on which all [success] runs is optimism.

And optimism is the only realism.”

 

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