By Monika Ritchie
What are the most popular goals for 2022? Unsurprisingly, fitness goals, weight loss, and healthier eating are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions. There’s nothing like a brand-new year to bring about some self reflection and self improvement. But in that first rush of post-holiday, “new year, new me” enthusiasm, it can be easy to overspend for what we perceive to be “a good cause.”
This is a great month to work towards your resolutions while still keeping an eye on your budget. If you’ve learned to think that challenges can be addressed by buying the latest gadget or spending money on an expensive program or subscription, resist the urge to keep following that mindset. A meal service, work out equipment, or gym membership will put a dent in your budget and could be difficult to sustain once the novelty wears off.
Whether you’re trying to eat healthier, lose weight, manage money better, or simply improve your overall health, you don’t need to max out your credit cards to turn your resolutions into reality. Here are some tips to get you started.
Reach for Your Goals Instead of a Pile of Products
When getting ready to tackle a goal, it can be tempting to rush out and buy all the gear you need to succeed. Before you shop yourself into a stress-filled 2022, consider what you already have at home. It’s likely that things like a yoga mat, running shoes, and light weights might already be in your house, tucked away in a closet somewhere.
If you really don’t have the things you need, consider buying equipment second-hand. Around this time of year, many people will have “tried out” a new fitness routine or sport only to find it’s not what they’re looking for; consequently, a lot of second-hand equipment can be lightly used or like new. You can also reach out to friends or family who might have some useful gear gathering dust. As for athletic clothing, most of us have sweatpants, shorts, and/or leggings in our closets as well as a comfy t-shirt and sweater. Don’t be swayed by pricey athletic wear. That $100 moisture-wicking workout top might look great, but it’s not going to help you reach your goals any faster.
Keep It Simple to Save
Eating healthier is another popular resolution for the New Year. Unfortunately, a lot of ads, articles, and magazines would have you think, the only way to eat healthy is to sign up for a meal kit, buy all organic or specialty foods, and add a pile of expensive supplements to your diet. Sometimes, eating healthier is more about removing the unhealthy items instead of spending money on new ones.
For example, consider cutting back on the number of times you go out for lunch in a week. Instead, use the leftovers from dinner as your lunch. Meal planning is a sure-fire way to save on groceries and have leftovers ready when you need them. Also try to replace empty processed foods with simple, less expensive whole foods and not necessarily with pricey, organic items that can be less sustainable on a tight budget.
Planning ahead and keeping it simple can save you money. Increase the amount of vegetables on your plate, swap out the bag of chips for your favourite fruit, and try drinking more water. These are all manageable small steps that won’t break your budget while you work on your health and fitness goals.
Try Skipping… The Gym Membership
The average gym membership in Canada costs between $40-$60 a month. If you find that having a membership is a strong motivator to meet your fitness goals and you don’t tend to skip a lot of sessions, then it may be worthwhile for you to find room in your budget for this monthly expense. However, if you are someone who prefers the idea of the gym to actually going to one, and you are paying for a membership that you rarely use, consider rethinking how you work out.
Getting out for a walk 4 or 5 days a week is going to be more beneficial to you than going to the gym once a month or not at all. Look online for alternative workout plans and routines. Many are free or come with a free trial. There are also free apps that can provide you with a variety of routines, schedules, and plans to help you get moving. Or explore drop-in options at your community’s recreation centre for fitness-geared activities you enjoy. Swim club or roller skating anyone?
Change Your Focus for Better Results and Less Stress
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try reframing your resolution. Losing weight for example can be an arbitrary and frustrating goal. Your weight also fluctuates and is not always the best indicator of good health. Try a goal like this instead: “This year, I would like to focus on my health by spending more time walking or exercising outdoors.” Or “This year, I would like to focus on improving my eating habits by cutting restaurant purchases down from every day to once every pay cheque.” Both goals are likely to result in some weight loss, but more importantly, both can actually save you money and they are making your health a priority with small changes that can have big results.
You can quantify these goals further by giving yourself more specific targets, for example: “This year, my goal is to get outside for a walk at least three times a week. I will stay accountable by having a friend or family member walk with me.” Want to keep track? You can find free apps that track your steps and activity levels. Be kind to yourself by ensuring that you set SMART goals. And if you do backslide a bit, learn from the experience and keep moving forward.
You Can Achieve Your 2022 Goals Without Breaking Your Budget
Reaching your goals takes time, dedication, and focus. There is no magic device, food, equipment, or app that will change this. Anyone who says otherwise is quite literally trying to sell you something. Take your time, stay accountable, and don’t be swayed by the marketing of new year’s resolutions. If you set specific, detailed goals, track your progress, and avoid breaking your budget on trendy, short-lived products, 2022 may turn out to be the year when you succeed at your resolutions and have fun doing it.