Three Tips to Help You Stick to Your 2011 New Year's Resolutions

overweight couple sitting - stick to your new year's resolutionsWith more Americans making New Year's resolutions this year, here are three tips to help you stick to three of the most popular:

1. Get Fit/Lose Weight

Tip to Stick to it: Involve Money:

Diet and exercise are always at the top of the list, and while everyone has a plan -- "to fit into the jeans I wore in college," "to get down to the weight I was when I got married," "to drop 10 pounds for my high school reunion" -- reaching that goal is another thing altogether if there isn't money involved. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association, patients motivated to meet weight loss targets in order to win money -- or not lose it -- were up nine times more likely to meet their targets than those without such incentives.2. Stop Smoking

Tip to Stick to it: Get Help From a Professional
This habit is not only costly ($86,000 for a 24-year old woman over a lifetime; $183,000 for a 24-year old man over a lifetime), but it also takes 8-10 years off your life, and significantly increases your insurance costs -- from your life insurance (expect to pay about three times as much as a non-smoker) to your homeowners (non-smokers typically get a 10% discount on their premiums), auto insurance (non smokers generally get a 5% discount), to your health insurance. Yes, it's a tough habit to kick (willpower!), but research shows that the odds improve dramatically if you get help. In fact, work with a professional and your success rate jumps from 2%-5% to 30%-60%, according to estimates from Dr. Oz.

3. Pay Off Debt
Tip to Stick to it: Prioritize
After you've put together a list of how much you owe (including all credit cards, mortgage, student loans, auto loans, personal loans, and bank loans), prioritize. First, pay the bills that are a necessity for health, says credit card expert, Bill Hardekopf, CEO of Then, pay the secured loans (such as your car loan), followed by the unsecured (credit cards). If you have several cards with outstanding balances, focus on paying off the card with the highest interest rate first; consider a balance transfer if your rate is above 15%. Hardekopf likes Citi Platinum Select -- it currently offers a 0% introductory rate for 21 months.
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