|If you want a new look, it might be worth checking out a beauty school: Often, they offer styling services at a discount. (Janet Hostetter/Associated Press/File 2007)|
Resolutions on the cheap
Achieving your goal - be it slimming down or simplifying your finances - doesn’t have to be expensive
MILWAUKEE - A couple of weeks into the new year, you may find keeping your resolve more expensive than you expected. Here are some tips on sticking to popular resolutions without slimming down your bank account.
Getting fit: Losing weight and developing a workout routine doesn’t require spending a lot or even joining a gym for $50 a month or more. Instead, get a pair of comfortable shoes and start walking - around your neighborhood, at a local track, or even in a mall, said Amanda Tikalsky, a personal trainer at the Wisconsin Athletic Club in Milwaukee.
For some people, just adding new songs to a workout mix, or buying a gadget like a heart-rate monitor can jump start a commitment to fitness.
“It’s all finding what fits you best, what are you must motivated by,’’ Tikalsky said.
If you’re more advanced, buy exercise bands for as little as $10 and find routines at fitness websites or in magazines at the library. If you have questions about specific exercises, call a gym and ask to speak with a trainer. Tikalsky said most are happy to answer a question or two for free.
If you prefer a class, try community centers, where prices tend to be lower than at gyms and specialty clubs. And if you do want a gym membership, look for new year’s specials.
Getting a new look: If you want to start the decade with a new wardrobe, hairstyle, or makeup, first ask yourself what you want to change, said Kelly Machbitz, a certified image consultant with the Association of Image Consultants International. Do you want to look more professional? Younger? Thinner? Find examples of what you want in magazines or other resources.
“Once you have a visual, it’s much, much easier,’’ said Machbitz, of Tampa Bay. “Then you can select clothing or take it to your hairdresser.’’
Next, for the wardrobe, look first in your own closet - and those of willing friends and relatives - for clothes and accessories that may still work and help you limit spending. Then go shopping to fill in gaps.
For your hair, once you’ve chosen a style, upload a picture of yourself to www.thehairstyler.com to see how it will look before you pay for it. If you’re after something completely new, go to a more expensive salon with more experienced stylists. For maintenance cuts like trims, try a less-expensive one, do it yourself, or go to a beauty school for discount services, Machbitz says.
For cosmetics, try a free makeover at a department store. There’s no obligation to buy. But a tip for the stylist, as little as $5, guarantees good treatment when you return.
Getting your home organized: Maybe your vision of 2010 involves seeing the floor in your closet again or not spending hours looking for your keys. Don’t hire a professional or buy storage systems. With a little planning, you can declutter your house on your own, said Jaimee Zanzinger, an executive editor of RealSimple.com.
Spending is “not necessary, as long as you can devote some time to it and really make use of the things you have lying around the house,’’ she said.
Start by noting what you can remove or organize in each room, using the helpful checklists at www.realsimple.com. When you’re ready to stow everything, reuse shoe boxes, old bins, and even old jars, which can hold things like kids’ game pieces.
The key is to label each container - and not to tackle the whole house at once. Try one room each month.
Getting your finances together: To organize your finances and cut paper clutter, Zanzinger recommends buying a scanner ($50 and up) to keep bills on your hard drive instead of on paper. If you want to store paper copies, get an accordion folder and be diligent about filing them, along with more important documents, like birth certificates.
To get a handle on your spending, try tracking it for a week with the appropriate form on RealSimple.com, where you list everything you buy - from lattes to groceries - and your priority for each item to help find things you can cut back. Also consider free online budget applications like mint.com, which will pull in data from your bank and credit card accounts and track your spending.