7 Realistic New Year’s Resolutions (For The Budget-Minded)

Save Money New Year's Resolutions

A guide to help you set Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

2020 is right around the corner! That means New Year’s Resolutions are about to be made… and most likely broken.

The majority of us are guilty of going into a new year with big plans, only to not follow through.

To fix that, I’m going to fill you in on some realistic New Year’s resolutions that will yield results you can actually see and be proud of!

Here are my top 7 Realistic New Year’s Resolutions (for the budget-minded) that you can stick with and not give up

1. Start A Christmas Fund

Several years ago I worked at a bank, and a product we offered was a Christmas Savings account.

I took advantage of the opportunity and was able to save almost $1000 for Christmas that year!

Since then I try to follow the same principle and put money aside throughout the year specifically for Christmas. Some years I have more than others, and that’s ok.

This resolution is perfect because you get to see your results throughout the year.

The bonus is that you get a nice fat paycheck at the end just to go shopping with. This also allows you to stress less about holiday spending.

The first year I did this was the first year I didn’t use credit cards to pay for Christmas. That was a huge win for me!

(If you want to learn other ways I save money during the holidays, check out this post!)

2. Pay Off At Least One Debt

The weight of carrying debt can really take its toll on a person.

Whether it’s credit card debt, loans, financed vehicles, etc., it can feel overwhelming sometimes.

One great, realistic New Year’s resolution is to pick one debt and pay it off before the year is through.

Even if it’s the smallest balance you owe, paying it off will give you a sense of accomplishment.

Pick one that is realistic with your income, and make it your goal to get rid of that debt before 2021 arrives!

3. Start an Emergency Savings Account

Just like the Christmas fund, starting an emergency savings account is a realistic resolution that you can see results easily.

You could make it your goal to save as little as $200 for the year. Or try to save as much as $1000 if it fits into your budget.

Whatever works best for you!

Your emergency savings account can be used for any surprises that come up throughout the year.

You might need a new tire, or to fix a broken windshield. Or maybe you have to call a plumber to fish toy cars out of your toilet (I know I’m not the only one who has been there, right?)

If you put a little bit aside each paycheck, you’ll see that emergency savings start to add up!

Flat Tire
Photo: Pixabay

Make sure when you make this goal, you take into consideration your monthly budget.

If you have to take a few dollars away from your weekly Starbucks reward, try to do it!

You’ll thank yourself when the time comes that you need that money!

(If you don’t already have a set budget, check out this helpful post I wrote for budget beginners!)

4. Get Healthy Without Joining a Gym

(Disclaimer: Always speak with your doctor before drastically changing your diet and exercise regimen)

If you search the most common resolutions, you’ll see that at least 3 out of the top five are health-related.

One of my favorite realistic New Year’s resolutions is to get healthy without joining a gym.

A couple of years ago I fell victim to the “I’ll join a gym and be my best self!” resolution.

I worked right next door to Planet Fitness, so I thought that would keep me accountable.

The membership lasted the whole year. I went to the gym twice. Ouch. It was only $20 a month, but that was $20 I could have been using somewhere else.

A more realistic resolution would be to get healthy WITHOUT joining a gym.

For some more awesome tips on how to do this, check out this article from Fitmomology. It’s worth the read!

Getting healthy means more than just working out. Diet is a huge part of it also.

Focus on eating more fruits and veggies and less boxed products. That helps tremendously! It seems so expensive to eat healthy these days, I know.

But once I really got into the groove I realized that the produce I was buying was actually stretching a lot further than the boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes!

Photo: Pixabay

For cheap non-gym exercise, try finding a local walking/biking trail and spend some time soaking up that much-needed vitamin D.

If you envision yourself running, think about doing the Couch to 5k program. I lost ten pounds a couple of years ago just by completing the 9-week program and not eating boxed foods.

It really works!

I never was a runner before, but by the end of the nine weeks I was able to complete a 5k in 28 minutes!

Not only did I save money, but I got a huge confidence boost as well!


5. Lower Your Grocery Bill

I feel like lowering your grocery bill is not a very utilized resolution.

If you keep a budget, you may notice that you spend a TON of money on groceries throughout the year.

If you don’t keep a budget and often wonder where all of your money is going, chances are groceries are taking up a good bit of it.

Believe it or not, there are ways you can save money on your grocery bill.

A few ways of doing that are buying generic instead of name brand, not limiting yourself to one grocery store, and not buying junk food just for the sake of filling up your pantry.

For more detailed ideas, please see my post, “5 Ways I feed My Large Family For Less Than $120 a Week“.

Large Family

6. Create a Monthly Budget

If you don’t already have a monthly budget to manage your finances, this would be a great resolution to make!

There are so many reasons that having a budget is a good idea.

Seeing exactly where all of your money is going can help reign in any overspending you might be doing.

It can also help you decide how much you can reasonably set aside for savings, among other things.

If you have never lived on a budget, I know the idea can be intimidating.

But you don’t have to go into crazy detail and throw yourself into a hard-to-manage budget that becomes more stressful than beneficial.

Monthly Budget

Try this simple budget format!

If you’re not sure if this is a realistic resolution for you, check out this post that I wrote explaining why you should live on a budget!

7. Cook at Home More Often

Think about all the money you spend going out to eat. Imagine what you could do with the money you would save if you cooked at home more often!

I’m not saying don’t ever go on a date night, or treat yourself to a Friday night out with the girls. Maybe go from eating out twice a week to eating out once a week, or eating out weekly to every other week.

Not only can you save money by cooking at home more often, but you can also control what is going into the food you are eating (which plays into the “get healthy” resolution).


Another benefit of cooking at home is that it can really have any impact on your family time.

Whether it’s just you and your spouse or you have kids, there’s just something more personal about sitting around the table eating a home-cooked meal without the commotion of a busy restaurant.

Realistic New Year’s Resolutions Recap

  • Start a Christmas Fund
  • Pay off at least one debt
  • Start an emergency savings account
  • Get healthy without joining a gym
  • Lower your grocery bill
  • Create a monthly budget
  • Cook at home more often

Whether you pick one of these resolutions to try out, or you feel like you can attempt multiple, I hope that this provides you with some inspiration to stick to your plan and achieve your goals!

If you want to share some of your realistic new year’s resolutions, feel free to leave a comment below! I love hearing from you!

Please spread the word and share my blog on Pinterest!

30 thoughts on “7 Realistic New Year’s Resolutions (For The Budget-Minded)”

  1. Starting an emegency fund (or restarting it) is something that I definitely need to work on for the new year. Great post btw.

  2. These are all such great ideas! Thank you for sharing. I too joined a gym a couple of times when I was younger, thinking that membership would motivate me. It didn’t. I far more enjoy exercising outdoors or doing yoga at home. I’ve kept my physical health goals without a gym much better than with one for many years now. And as you point out, it’s free!

  3. This are great ideas for New Year’s resolutions. I love the idea of starting a Christmas fund and paying off at least one debt. I get so paranoid about my finances all the time because I have so many credit cards, I definitely want to start paying them off any leaving them alone.

    1. Great article! We found that going out to eat was one of our biggest expenses also! We have agreed to cut family dinners out to once a month (there are 7 of us, so it gets expensive!) and to limit grabbing something “on the go” to twice a month. It’s made a HUGE difference!

  4. Those are all great and realistic resolutions. I keep saying I am going to start a travel fund but I never do it. Not sure why.

    1. 5 or 10 dollars here and there would be a great way to start your travel fund! Then you won’t feel like it’s taking too much from your budget, and it adds up quick!

  5. Such helpful ideas to help with finances in the new year! I especially like the one about starting a Christmas fund. I always think I have so much time, so I don’t start far enough ahead of time and before I know it Christmas is here and we are struggling to figure out how we are going to afford it. This will definitely be a resolution of ours this year. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Jenn - The Solivagant Soul

    There’s something stupid that I have tried a couple of months this year that has worked wonders for my savings. I decide to take the full month as if it were the end it. Usually by the end of the month I wont be ordering as much, buying many other things that I dont need and maybe going out as often. I managed to save almost 50% of more of what I usually do every month just by doing that. I do not want to do this every month as I think I also deserve to splurge here and then, but in occasions it was very helpful.

    1. The Christmas fund comes in extremely handy when you don’t want to charge up credit cards! I love the birthday fund idea! I may do that as well!

    1. I think not making that commitment keeps you from feeling like you’re trapped. I like the option to go for a run or do a quick youtube workout much better!

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