By Bernard Freeman
Create an Emergency Fund
The unexpected COVID-19 pandemic left millions of Americans without their jobs and income they rely on to make ends meet. Kaiser Health News reports that as of May 2020, more than 39 million Americans had filed for unemployment benefits.
The sudden shutdown of businesses large and small can teach us the importance of having an emergency fund to help get through tough times. America’s Debt Help Organization recommends that people have enough savings to cover at least three months of expenses. An emergency fund that can last up to six months is preferable, as it can protect you and reduce your need to rely on high-interest credit cards or loans.
Building an emergency fund can seem like an uphill battle if you find it challenging to add to a savings account after your monthly commitments. Consider these tips that can cause significant growth over time.
- Get a part-time job during your free time. Commit to using the additional funds solely for saving.
- Cut expenses that cause a strain to your budget. Consider avoiding eating out or buying a daily coffee.
- As you spend cash throughout the day, promise to add all the change into a jar. Once the container is full, deposit the accumulated coins into a savings account.
- These simple guidelines will help you gain traction in an emergency fund plan while providing satisfaction as your nest egg grows.
Face Your Debt
You can find more room in your budget for savings by cutting down high-interest debts and high monthly payments. Analyze your financial responsibilities on paper by jotting down the due dates, costs and interest. Talk to your lenders about more feasible commitments or consider lumping credit-card debts and loans into one manageable payment. You may find a better interest rate that will save you a significant amount of money that can be included in your emergency fund.
Open a Separate Account
It’s essential to keep emergency funds separate from an easily accessible checking account. Try to monitor your primary account and transfer any surpluses to savings to prepare for an unexpected expense or other financial situation.
Revamp your Routine
When sedentary or unhealthy routines become habitual, your mental and physical health likely suffers the consequences.
Make a change to your life by committing to add more beneficial behaviors. The additions do not have to be drastic to make a significant impact on your health.
Consider adding some healthy habits to your lifestyle by promising to incorporate these positive actions to your list of New Year’s resolutions.
If your idea of unwinding after a day’s work is shacking up on the couch and binging your favorite shows, you may be inviting dangerous health risks. A study by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center reveals that binge-watching television can increase the risk of developing deep-vein thrombosis or a life-threatening blood clot.
Before settling in for the evening, try to add a moderate or intense workout into your routine. A study by the National Institutes of Health shows that mental health can be directly affected by regular exercise. Symptoms and disorders like anxiety, depression and a negative mood are proven to be reduced through physical activity while improving your self-esteem and cognitive functions.
According to the American Heart Association, adults should meet these guidelines regarding physical activity.
- At least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.
- Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening workouts at least twice per week.
- Spend less time sitting — even light activity can offset some risks involved with a sedentary lifestyle.
If you’re new to a physical routine, consider hiring a personal trainer to show you the ropes, or team up with a friend who will hold you accountable.
Cut out the junk food that makes its way into your diet. Instead of snacking on foods that are high in sodium or fat content, consider adding superfoods like broccoli, leafy greens and lean proteins. Get creative in the kitchen with new and exciting recipes to avoid falling into old bad eating habits. You can meal plan for the week and use a calorie-tracking app to keep a log of your foods.
Committing to a healthier lifestyle won’t happen overnight just because the calendar year changes. You will need strict determination to alter the behaviors that may already be developed. Remember to take it slow while your body learns its new healthy routine.
Sticking to Resolutions
Whether you resolve to lose weight or change an unhealthy habit, sticking to a year-long commitment requires determination and dedication. For many, staying on track is easy for the first few months. Still, as the calendar marches on, some struggle to maintain.
The key to succeeding in your New Year’s resolutions is by setting realistic goals for yourself. When deciding on a long-term objective, create a list of small steps to take that make the ultimate achievement more accessible. Reaching little milestones throughout the year can help make the process more fun and rewarding.
Check out these tips from the American Psychological Association to keep yourself motivated and achieve the great results you desire.
Change One Behavior at a Time
If you have several bad habits that you plan to resolve, avoid becoming overwhelmed by addressing each one separately. Consider which behavior is most important to cut out of your life and start there.
When your goal is to get into the gym, but membership is hard to afford, you can work on cutting out habits like smoking or eating out to save money. Until you have the savings from avoiding expensive behaviors, work out at home before funding a year-long member fee at your local facility. Cutting out expensive or unhealthy addictions will lead to a healthier lifestyle that can impact your performance once you do hit the gym.
Find a Support Group
Working toward achievements with friends or like-minded peers is a great way to be held responsible for ultimately reaching your goals. Find people in your life who plan to set similar New Year’s resolutions and ask to team up or form a bond of support. Plan to communicate each week and discuss how things are going and talk through any setbacks.
When unable to find someone close to you for support, take advantage of social media groups where you can connect with people all over the world. The multiple points of view can paint a better perspective that will help reach your goal in a different way than you imagined.
Don’t Become Discouraged
Try not to beat yourself up if you don’t meet the milestones as quickly as you imagined. Changing your lifestyle can be difficult. Use the setbacks as learning experiences to put into action when you are discouraged or feel like giving up on your resolutions.