New year, new you, minimum spend.
It’s a whole new year. A brand new one. Every year the same resolutions get made and all too often broken. People plan to eat healthier food, to get fitter, to reach a healthy weight, or sometimes to take up a new skill like a musical instrument.
It’s relatively easy to blow loads of money on a personal trainer or gym membership or a foodbox subscription or a £2,000 violin. It’s harder to stick at a resolution over the following months.
The good news is that you can achieve loads without spending a lot. Here’s how to get your resolutions for free.
Get fit for free
Joining the gym is one of those New Year traditions that has become a bit of a running joke. Each January, gyms see a massive influx of new members but many don’t stick around for more than a few weeks – although they can end up paying for a full year or more.
The obvious answer is to ditch the gym and go for a run, but we know it’s not as simple as that. It’s easy to feel out of your depth and discouraged if you’re on your own. But there are loads of amazing, free ways to get fit if you're not too sure how to go about it.
Here’s just a few:
Find a park run
Parkrun is a scheme run by volunteers and organises free, weekly 5km timed runs across the UK. There’s a great sense of community support, a real focus on beating your personal best and improving, and help for those starting out too.
Free online workout videos
Across the internet there are people out there providing free training via online video. YouTube is full of fitness workouts, including yoga classes, pilates, boxercise and HIIT workouts. Just be careful to only use reputable fitness presenters so that you’re exercising in a safe way.
The Sweaty Betty website has a ’31 days to fit’ video library to help you tone up (although the presenters do use phrases like ‘super fun’).
Couch to 5km
The NHS has a brilliant ‘couch to 5km’ programme that can help you go from struggling to run for a bus to confidently running for 30 minutes in just 9 weeks. There are several apps that will take you through the programme as you run, telling you when to walk and when to run and gradually building you up to 5k (and beyond).
Remember, if you have any medical concerns then check with your doctor before you start a new exercise regime.
Learn a new skill for free
So you want to learn a new language? Or the piano? Or how to make intricate Japanese art by folding paper?
There are so many free online resources where you can start learning a new skill without spending any money. Perhaps you’ll go on to spend some money on professional training, but you can certainly start out in a new skill for free.
Take a look at Alison for free online courses. There are languages, humanities subjects, computing, science and business courses, and 11 million people have already used this free resource.
OpenLearn from the Open University provides a number of free online courses, including in areas such as languages, maths and politics.
You can enjoy a free taster in a musical instrument of your choice with the Music for All Learn To Play Days. In 2018 those are 17th and 18th March.
Eat well, without paying more
Changing diet and eating more fruit and veg can feel like a time-consuming task, which is why there’s such growing interest in veg boxes and ingredient deliveries.
But eating well should not come at a premium and it doesn’t have to. The Change 4 Life campaign, run by the NHS, has a brilliant meal planner tool, with cheap but healthy dinner ideas that can feed a family for around £5.
As well as recipes and lunchbox ideas it offers a four-week course called the Meal Mixer, which gets you to cook a healthy, affordable meal from scratch once a week until you build up your knowledge.
It’s simple and it’s free, so it should be your first stop for a healthy 2018.
Keep on top of your finances without paying a penny
Okay, it was probably slightly predictable that we’d include this one but hear us out.
A really great resolution for 2018 would be to stay on top of your finances more effectively. You might decide to do that by drawing up a budget, paying down some debt and saving more regularly – but checking your credit score and report is another important tool for managing your money.
Doing so will let you see exactly what you owe, it will mean you can check for errors that might stop you getting a mortgage or loan and it can help keep you safe from identity theft. With ClearScore you can check your credit score for free, forever. That’s a really good, completely free resolution for the next 12 months and beyond.