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How to save money on 3 popular New Year's resolutions

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About 38% of Americans have a New Year's resolution planned for 2020, according to a recent Urban Plates/Ipsos survey. If the trend from 2019 holds, just under half of those people will follow through on it.

Many of the most popular resolutions focus on financial and physical well-being. People want to be smart with their money and lead healthier lives. One of the top resolutions in the survey was achieving financial goals — 51% of respondents with planned resolutions for 2020 said they wanted to save more money, pay off debts, or buy a new house in the coming year.

Sticking to New Year's resolutions doesn't have to be expensive, and some pledges can even help you save money to put toward those 2020 financial goals. Here are a few tips to make some of the most popular resolutions work for your budget.

Eat healthier

Eating healthier tied with financial goals as a top resolution, with 51% of people in the Urban Plates survey saying they planned to do so — mainly by avoiding fast food and eating fewer processed foods.

One easy way to save while sticking with this goal is by prepping more of your own meals instead of dining out. That gives you greater control over ingredients, which can make eating healthy easier. It can also be remarkably cost-effective.

"If done smartly, I think cooking at home can save you at least 60% on food costs," Beth Moncel of Budget Bytes recently told Grow. "It may take a little practice and learning a couple new skills, but I can easily make a meal for less than $5. Eating out can easily cost $15 per meal or more."

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We tried meal prepping and buying lunch to determine which method is best

Video by Jason Armesto

Work out, be more active, and lose weight

Half of survey respondents said they wanted to work out and/or be more active in 2020. For many, those goals go hand-in-hand with losing weight, which 42% cited as an aim.

Joining a gym could help with all three, and as of 2018, the average membership cost $58 a month, according to Statistic Brain. But there are a few good ways to save before you even walk in for your first workout, including negotiating your membership deal and taking advantage of discounts offered through your employer or health insurer.

Fitness trainer Nicole Hulley told Grow earlier this year that she recommends people pay on a monthly basis for the first few months, before you sign a longer-term contract. That gives you an opportunity to evaluate the gym and make sure it's a fit for your budget and fitness needs.

"If you're not planning on taking all those group fitness classes or swimming in the pool, those things are really what drives up the membership price," Hulley says. "You could easily go to a small, local gym for $45 a month, as opposed to all the fluff other gyms offer, which you end up paying for whether you use it or not."

Be more environmentally friendly

Just under a quarter of survey respondents (22%) expressed a desire to be more environmentally friendly, via moves like recycling more and reducing waste or plastic use.

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6 earth-friendly ways to save money

Video by David Fang

Integrating some eco-friendly habits into your daily routine may require an upfront investment. But investing in a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water, and ditching plastic baggies for silicone lunch containers, can pay off relatively quickly — while drastically cutting the amount of single-use plastic you consume.

"Start easy," Victoria Fillet, a certified financial planner at Roosevelt Wealth Management in New York City, told Grow earlier this year. "Try to do one thing each week that will save the environment and also save you dollars. If you start small and work up to it, it will become your daily habit."

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