Experts say you can stick to goals

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 1, 2013 

Whether your New Year's resolution is to repair relationships, lose weight and get in shape or shore up flabby finances, you're not alone.

Several of our Facebook readers shared similar goals -- to "Try to lose weight (again!)" or "to buy a car this year with cash and pay off the house."

Others had different aspirations -- to write a book, grow a garden full of nutritious plants or just "to make every day count."

No matter your goal, the advice from local experts was the same. Start slowly and simply and build from there.

"I find that if you make a commitment to not using credit it is easier than making a commitment to saving. I know if I see it, I want to spend it," said Ryan Bennett with the Harvey Insurance Agency in Pasco. "If you are going to make a commitment to saving, you have to get the money so you don't see it."

Bennett also recommends Dave Ramsey's budget guidelines as a starting point.

Jana Castanon, community outreach coordinator for Apprisen, a national consumer credit counseling service with an office in Kennewick, recommended starting by evaluating your lifestyle.

"Are you living beyond your means? Add all your assets, subtract all your debts and what's left is your net worth," she said. "Seeing that number can really make people stop and think."

Another one -- a tip she recently began using -- is to always have a plan and a list before heading to the grocery store.

"Check the freezer, the fridge and your pantry to see what you have on hand and make a week's menu using what you have, then shop," Castanon said.

Unsubscribe to websites sending out weekly or daily emails trying to lure you to their websites to spend money. "If you're an impulsive person like me, you don't need those daily messages to buy things," she said.

However, Castanon uses coupons and apps to save money by comparison shopping before buying. One app she uses scans barcodes and tells her, within a 10-mile radius, where to find the best price for that item.

Some popular comparison apps are ShopSavvy, Price Grabber and Google Shopper.

Another tip: Give yourself a weekly allowance for lunches, snacks and beverages.

"Sure you're only spending $2, $4 or $6 at a time, but it adds up," she said. "And determine a realistic amount you can afford to save, even if it's just $5 a week. Yes, it's not a lot but it's $5 more than you had the week before."

The best way to get a handle on your money is to start slow and build to more realistic expectations.

"You can't do it all at once but you can pick one goal ... and start building. Start small and think big," Castanon said.

That's the same advice Morgan Fewel gives her clients. She is a fitness director at Columbia Basin Racquet Club in Richland.

"We're always really busy at New Year's. People make their resolutions to get fit, to lose weight and work really, really hard for the first few months then we don't see them for six months," Fewel said.

Far better, she said, is to be consistent and not go so hard and fast that you get so sore you don't come in again. She also recommends seeking out a personal trainer to guide you into the proper program and to ensure you progress correctly.

"Some people just dabble and try one machine, then another. A personal trainer can teach you to use the machines and free weights correctly so you get the most benefit from them," she said.

"Getting fit does not happen overnight and staying fit is a challenge. Not staying fit is what's really easy," Fewell said. "Think of being healthy and fit as a preventive thing, something that's a lot cheaper than doctors and medicines. It's really an investment in your health."

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