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7 New Year’s Resolutions That Pull Double Duty as Savvy Financial Moves

Cathie Ericson

You don’t need to resolve to pay off debt or save more to improve your finances this year. Because, if you think about it, almost any big life goal—from landing a new job to dropping a few unhealthy habits—could affect your wallet.

Take these seven common New Year’s resolutions that pull double duty as smart money moves.

1. Improve your health.

Topping many resolutions lists are health-related goals, like exercising more, losing weight, quitting smoking and eating healthier—all of which can boost your bottom line. For example, cooking at home and brown-bagging your lunch immediately spares a boatload of calories and dollars. And over the long term, maintaining a healthy weight can save you big: Obesity has been linked with lower work productivity and a serious uptick in annual medical costs.

2. Get more ZZZs.

Put down the phone and turn off Netflix—your physical and financial health depends on it. In addition to an increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure (among other diseases), lack of sleep costs the U.S. economy $411 billion annually, due to a higher mortality rate and decreased productivity.

Plus, more sleep = better focus + more energy—an equation that can also help you crush your work goals and nab a higher-paying gig.

3. Pick up a new hobby.

Indulging in some “me time” could ultimately yield more time overall: Hobbies have been shown to improve longevity and guard against Alzheimer’s disease.

If you enjoyed planning holiday festivities, or making homemade gifts, why not turn that into a side gig? You can direct the extra cash to your emergency fund or retirement account—or use it to make one extra mortgage payment a year, potentially saving you thousands in interest over time, notes Certified Financial Planner Jordan Sowhangar of Univest Investments, Inc.

4. Spend more quality time with loved ones.

Got a birthday or special occasion coming up? Forgo the trinket and expensive dinner and host a game night at home or hit a hiking trail together instead. Research shows that spending money on experiences (which don’t need to break the bank) makes us much happier than accumulating stuff anyway.

5. Travel.

You don’t need to be a credit cards rewards ninja to benefit financially from more travel (though there are lots of ways to use points to kick up your travel plans and lower your costs). A study by Project: Time Off, a group that studies Americans’ vacation habits, found that employees who vacationed for 11 or more days were more likely to perform better at work and to get a raise than those who took 10 or fewer.

6. Read more.

According to “Rich Habits” author Tom Corley, who spent five years studying the differences between the rich and poor, 88 percent of wealthy people read for at least 30 minutes per day. By expanding their horizons—through reading news sites, personal development books and biographies of successful people—they can recognize more opportunities and earn more, Corley writes.

7. Get organized.

When you’re disorganized, you lose things you have to replace. You pay late charges. You forget to cancel that free trial. In other words, your disarray is costing you cold, hard cash.

The first place to organize this year? Your budget. “Writing down your monthly expenses will show you areas where you don’t even realize you’re overspending,” Sowhangar says. Then vow to better track important due dates and other deadlines, so you never pay an unnecessary fee again.

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