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Start Your New Year Off Right!

People all over the world celebrate the last day of the year with their friends and family and ring in the New Year with various traditions from watching the ball drop at Times Square to admiring a fireworks display. A new year is full of infinite possibilities, but with so many options, it can be hard to know where to start.

All too often New Year’s plans are put off in favor of other holiday plans, but no matter who or where you are, chances are you have some plans for New Year’s Eve and even bigger plans for the year that follows. The sooner you begin, the more prepared you’ll be to make the upcoming year even better than the last, so why not get started today? 

New Year, New You

When the year draws to a close and New Year’s Day is on the horizon, many take it as a natural opportunity to not only celebrate but also to reflect on the previous year and focus their attention on what changes and improvements they can make in the next. After all, New Year’s Eve is only part of the equation. What is your goal this year? Holding yourself accountable to your resolutions by writing them down can be very motivating, and may help keep you focused and engaged long enough to see the results you’re looking for. Keep a calendar or planner to track your progress and use the month of December to prepare yourself to kick off your January the right way.

If losing weight is your New Year’s resolution, you can keep a diet and exercise journal; start your day with a weigh-in and some exercise, and make notes of everything you do in between – your starting weight, your physical activity, how long it took, your meals for the day, etc. Feeling stressed lately? Perhaps adding some mindful meditation into your daily routine and taking inventory of your feelings throughout the day could help. With a little effort and commitment, you can achieve your goals and recognize your stress triggers.

Save More This Year

If you’re like many Americans, you might like to improve your finances this year so you can travel. Save your receipts and analyze your spending. Write down how much you make each month, and then the total cost of your monthly bills and living expenses. The 50-30-20 strategy of spending and saving suggests you should spend 50% of your income on your monthly bills, 30% on treating yourself and devote the remaining 20% to savings or retirement. This is a great approach if your objective is to save more money this year because you don’t have to deny yourself to make strides toward your financial goals. 

And if your credit is keeping you up at night, when was the last time you checked your credit score? Unpaid debts and late payments could be keeping your score low, but if you own your car outright, a title loan could help you get ahead of your financial needs. Often times, the costs of late fees, penalties, and hits to your credit score outweigh the cost of a title loan, and you can even continue driving your car while you make your payments. The first part of addressing your needs is assessing them.

A smartphone and a few minutes are all you need. Check out some of the finance and health and wellness apps like Nudge or Credit Karma on the Android or Apple marketplaces and see how they can help you. Set alarms and reminders on your phone to help with goals like waking up earlier, paying your bills on time, or even making yourself a cup of herbal tea before bed. The expression, “out of sight, out of mind” may have some credence to it, but the reverse is also true. By making a conscious effort to accomplish your goals, you stand a much greater chance of reaching them. If you plan your resolutions in advance, the biggest concern on your mind will be how to have the most fun on New Year’s Eve!

Bring Your Own Bubbly

Even if you don’t drink, it’s hard to envision a New Year’s Eve without visions of popping corks and champagne glasses clinking. But while champagne is a New Year’s Eve staple, it’s certainly not the cheapest drink, nor is it everyone’s beverage of choice. Champagne is priced according to what people are willing to pay for it, so while expensive champagnes might be tasty, they are mostly drinkable status symbols. If money is tight, consider a sparkling wine like Prosecco or a Cava instead of over-spending on the priciest champagne for your New Year’s party. Additionally, champagnes and sparkling wines don’t need to be of an older vintage to be delicious, and can even be mixed in a punch bowl or poured over Chambord to make the famous Kir Royale Cocktail. 

When hosting, it is customary to offer at least one glass per guest for the midnight toast and you can get about five glasses from a 750ml bottle, but you don’t have to shoulder the entire “booze burden” on your own. Rather than charging yourself with the task of providing all the liquid refreshments, make your New Year’s Eve bash at BYOB (bring your own bubbly) to add a little variety to your event. If all your guests bring something different to share, everyone is much more likely to find a refreshment they enjoy, and you save money. As long as you’re with your friends and family there will be plenty to toast at midnight!

New Traditions and Old 

Half the fun of New Year’s has to be all the traditions that surround it. In Ireland, banging Christmas bread against walls is believed to bring good luck and scare off unwelcome negative spirits. Scottish tradition states that the first person to come into your home on New Year’s Day determines your luck for the rest of the year, so most guests will carry a gift to ensure their host’s good fortune.

Chinese New Year has lots of traditions of its own to celebrate the turn of the traditional Chinese calendar. The main event of Chinese New Year is the “Reunion Dinner”, which is similar in spirit to an American Thanksgiving celebration. All over the world, people gather to party until midnight, watch the ball drop on TV and enjoy the spectacle of fireworks bursting in the sky, but there are all sorts of New Year’s traditions that you can enjoy that won’t break the bank. 

For example, in Peru people observe a variety of quirky traditions that make their New Year’s celebrations quite unique. In Lima, people take a walk around the block with their luggage for good luck with their travels in the coming year. Mothers sprinkle rice around the house to bring luck, money, and even fertility. Some also fill each other’s pockets with wheat, lentils, and cinnamon to bring luck and love. It is believed if you keep these items somewhere safe, they will secure your good fortune all year round.

People all over South America traditionally buy a new garment of clothing to ring in the New Year, especially underwear, to signify the different things you desire in the year to come – red for luck in love, green for luck in money, although yellow is most popular for luck in general. From peeling potatoes to eating grapes under tables, these Peruvian New Year’s traditions might sound a little weird, but observing them with friends and family is what really makes them a great way to start a new year.

Let the Sparks Fly 

Fireworks are a big part of New Year’s traditions all over the world, but you don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy a light show. One option is to pool your resources with your guests to purchase a variety of fireworks, but there’s no need to go overboard; if you live in a populated area, chances are people all around you are planning to set off some fireworks as well.

You can gather everyone outside while you set yours off, and stick around to see the rest of the fireworks display that’s unfolding around you. And don’t forget the sparklers – they’re a great and inexpensive way to celebrate the new year that is safe enough for the kids to enjoy, too. Just be sure to take proper safety precautions, keep any and all explosives away from little hands, and remember to clean up afterward to keep your New Year’s Eve safe for everyone.

Resolve to Save More This Year

So how do you intend to ring in the new year? Do you have any fun and unusual traditions you already observe, or are you trying to start a whole new one with your friends and family? No matter what your New Year’s goals are, don’t let worrying about your finances keep you from enjoying the last day of this year, or a single day of the next. Let your guests in on a new tradition this year and host a stress-free Bring Your Own Bubbly New Year’s Day bash. Whatever lights up your New Year, you don’t have to spend much to see those sparks fly!