Monday, January 2, 2012

A Practical Post, Possibly the Only One of This Year

Welcome to another year. It's another chance to get right all the things we did wrong last year, a chance to improve our lives permanently and shoot for the stars.

Any of you have goals set so far? As you know, I make goals every year based around my birthday, but certain New Year's resolutions are very popular. According to (yes, our government has a website devoted to this), the most common resolutions revolve around a healthier body: eating better, staying fit, and losing weight.

This website has some good suggestions for losing weight in a healthy and safe way. Suddenly cutting out meals or running 5K will only serve to hurt your body; introduce changes slowly. Portion control and daily exercise can go a long way, even if it's only a half-hour walk and one less chicken wing. I am a bookseller, not a doctor, so talk to yours to help get a plan in place. Don't forget to be safe - even diet and exercise changes can hurt your body, if not handled in the right way.

Financial resolutions are also very popular - saving money toward an end goal, or managing debt. It's good to know how to balance a checkbook if you're going to do that. I try to write down any debit purchases the day I make them, so I don't loose receipts. That doesn't always work, of course, usually meaning I balance it once a month, when I pay bills. It's good to compare your checkbook to the bank statement, whether online or in paper format.

You can then start using a monthly budget planner, which will let you see how to most easily save money. Once you know how much you can put away each month, decide what kind of savings account to open. Watch out for various fees, as every bank seems to charge you for everything these days. It is possible to have a savings account without paying for it. Then make a rule that once you put money in, you are not allowed to take it out except for a specific purpose - car repairs, down payment on a home, etc.

Here's a blog with tips for smokers who want to quit. Here's one to quit drinking, and of course, the Madison area Alcoholics Anonymous. Remember, it's almost always easier to kick addictions when you're held accountable by someone, so let a friend know what you're doing so he or she can check your progress.

There's a whole year ahead of you - whatever your goals, whatever your methods, you are capable of changing your life. May Lady Luck be your guide, whether the goal is to recycle more or to get a pet monkey.

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