So the new year has started and you’ve made a few resolutions.
Now comes the challenging part — sticking to that resolve and reaching your goals, hopefully without having to spend a lot of money.
To help you do that, I’ve listed some of the most common New Year’s resolutions and found ways to accomplish them on the cheap.
Get in shape, take better care of my body
I think everybody I know has this on their list. Joining a gym can be expensive. But exercise is vital to our health and can save us big bucks in the long run, as far as medical bills go. To nip the “I have no money” excuse in the bud, here are some great free or cheap ways to accomplish this goal in 2014:
Tucson Tuesday Laughter Yoga — St. Francis in the Foothills Church, rooms 30 and 31, 4625 E. River Road. The class focuses on breathing, yogic exercises and laughter to promote peace and healing. Class is at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays. It’s free to attend, but they do appreciate donations.
Watch Groupon and Living Social for fitness deals. Currently on Groupon is a deal for Bodyzen boot camps. You can get six weeks of unlimited boot-camp sessions for $59. Regular price is $135. Go to groupon.com to see current deals.
City of Tucson recreation centers offer daily, quarterly and annual passes to use their facilities, which include weight rooms, walking tracks, aerobic rooms and pools. All for much less than joining a commercial gym. One example is William Clements Center, 8155 E. Poinciana Drive. An annual family pass is $420, which equals $1.15 per day or approximately $34.50 per month for the whole family. Or you can get the annual pass for the indoor walking track for $50. Some centers like El Rio Neighborhood Center, 1390 W. Speedway, have fewer amenities but offer a 20-visit pass for $25 to use the weight room. There are centers all over Tucson. See tucsonaz.gov/parksandrec to find the one nearest you.
Meet Me at Maynards — Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress. This is a casual, social walk/run through downtown, which happens every Monday, rain or shine. You can check in anytime between 5:15 and 6:30 p.m. and begin your walk anytime. There are special discounts for participants at many of the local businesses along the route. There is also a Meet Me at La Encantada at 5:15 p.m. Wednesdays at 2905 E. Skyline Drive.
A little knowledge can go a long way when it comes to nutrition and budgeting. The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona is hosting a free five-part class, All Things Food, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursdays from Jan. 16 to Feb. 13 at The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ, 17750 S. La Cañada Drive. In this class, students will learn about family nutrition, healthy meal planning, budgeting and more. Each class includes a healthy dinner with recipes. Call 882-3295 to register.
My friend Ellen Staab said her family will be growing their own vegetables this year. “We eat them fresh and have done canning and freezing with what we don’t eat right away,” she said. “Cheap and healthy and non-GMO.” The
Staabs plant carrots, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumber and lettuces from seeds, which cost about $1 to $2 per package, as well as tomato plants, which range in price from $4 to $7. Staab said the family will probably spend about $50 and the veggies last them all year, once they freeze some. It saves money since they only have to buy vegetables they don’t grow, such as mushrooms, corn and onions.
“Plus, the kids like to help plant, pick and cook what we grow,” Staab said. “So, it’s a way to get them to eat more veggies.”
Another money-saving tip: You can get free seeds at the Pima County Public Library’s seed bank.
For those of us who do not have a green thumb (I kill all green things), Market on the Move is a great option. You can get up to 60 pounds of produce for a $10 donation. I’ve gone a few times and I’ve never been disappointed. If you “like” The 3000 Club on Facebook, you’ll know what varieties of produce will be available before going. Markets run from 8 to 11 a.m. every Saturday at several locations around town. See the3000club.org for information and locations.
Don’t forget about the 99 Cents Only stores. They carry fresh produce and other groceries for only a dollar — even asparagus, which often is $4 or more a pound at grocery stores.
Make soup. “Especially in the winter,” said Julie Reed, writer of the blog Tucson Mama. “Our family eats incredibly cheaply in the winter when we rely on soups. Whether you make stock from scratch or buy from Trader Joe’s, soup is healthy, yummy and affordable.”
To avoid spending money on storage bins when organizing her kids’ rooms, Julie Reed said she works with her kids in their rooms and find ways to redo or reuse space. Rather than hire a professional for the rest of the house, Reid suggests getting together with a friend to declutter, repurpose and organize for each other, since it’s easier to organize someone else’s space.
When organizing your closet, setting a hanger limit is a good way to keep track of what you have and to save money. “When my hangers are all used, no new clothes — even from my favorite thrift stores — unless I sell, swap or donate something else,” Reed said.
One of my favorite cheap ideas for desktop organization is to wrap tin cans in pretty paper and use them to hold pencils, pens, paper clips, etc. You can also cut cereal boxes down to about three inches high and wrap them to make drawer organizers. If you are running out of cabinet or shelf space, go to Dollar Tree and grab an over-the-door shoe rack to store cleaning supplies or hair products.
Use a free app on your smartphone to organize accounts, appointments and bills. For example, Mint allows you to track, budget and manage your money, all from your phone. Evernote and Wunderlist let you keep track of appointments and make notes and to-do lists.
Learn something new
Learn how to dance at Maker House, at 283 N. Stone Ave. Tucson Blues Dance will teach you how to dance in this free class and open dance session. Dance class starts at 7 p.m. and open dance goes from 8 to 9:30 p.m. every Tuesday. See makerhouse.org for a full calendar of events. Learn more about Tucson Blues Dance at tucsonbluesdance.com
The Pima County Public Library, www.library.pima.gov, offers lots of free classes. They’re a great way to test the waters on a new skill. For example, you can start to learn to watercolor at 10 a.m. Jan. 22 at Flowing Wells Ellie Towne Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road. The library offers classes on topics from knitting to writing workshops.
Learn about bike safety or how to ride a bike. Pima County offers free bike-safety classes, which often include a free bike lock and light. See bikeped.pima.gov for information on free classes.
“Tucson has amazing resources,” said Reed, the Tucson Mama blogger. “At BICAS you can build your own bike, or buy a very affordable one. We got our son one for $10 and it was amazing.” BICAS is at 44 W. Sixth Street. Or visit online at bicas.org
Learn about our native birds on a free guided birding walk at Agua Caliente Park, 12325 E. Roger Road. Walks are at 8:30 a.m. Thursdays. Binoculars are provided, so you don’t have to buy them.
I saw the 52 Week Savings Challenge posted on Facebook, and it sounds pretty doable. You deposit a small amount of money each week into an account, according to what week of the year it is. For example, the first week you deposit $1, the next $2 and so on. If you stick to it, you’ll have $1,378 by the end of the year.
Take advantage of appetizer or happy-hour menus when going out. For example, one of Reed’s favorites is the $5 bar menu at Hotel Congress. It offers a variety of items such as a gluten-free vegan wrap and fish tacos. “Even when trying to save money, it feels great to get out and about,” Reed said.
Hang-dry your clothes in the house during the winter, rather than using the dryer to save on your energy bill, Reed suggests. “It’s super dry in the house, especially if the heat is on, and not only will your clothes dry faster, but you’ll save money by not using the dryer. And, you’ll humidify your house, helping keep the kiddos healthier.”