It’s that time of year again where we make a fresh start. It’s like going to confession and being absolved of past sins, ugly mistakes, bad purchases, a lousy lifestyle and over-indulgences of all descriptions.

I know a lot of people feel better after taking the courage to face the truth – to sit down somewhere quiet and take stock of the last 12 months and, undoubtedly find things they could have done better – and want to do better.

The prospect of a New Year gives us hope and a fresh start.

It’s not surprising to find that losing weight is on top of most lists. That’s good because we waste so much money on basically eating too much of the wrong foods. It’s hard to believe that an intelligent society of Homo sapiens go to so much trouble to make themselves sick. No other species in the wild kingdom does this.

Yes, weight is that single defining variable that writes guilt all over our bodies about the excesses we enjoy, even if the joy is temporary – about drinking too much alcohol, about being stressed out, about a lack of regular exercise. Weight tells us many things…

The top ten resolution lists then go in a number of different directions. I find it very interesting that getting out of debt isn’t on top of more lists because we owe soooooo much money. According to the Bank of Canada’s statistics, as of December, 2014 there was $530 billion outstanding in consumer credit  (excluding mortgages) in Canada. And that’s before the Christmas shopping frenzy. And this is an all-time high. Never have we owed so much in consumer debt.

Some people aim for a better life in the New Year by saving money and/or spending less. Although these are noble objectives, it’s pretty hard to do if you keep on borrowing as the above statistics are considered. It’s also somewhat disingenuous when you consider inflation and taxation constantly going up and wages not keeping up.

For example, today in the Vancouver Sun, we are informed that, “From electricity rates to basic auto insurance to property taxes to employment insurance, British Columbians are going to be shelling out more cash to all three levels of government in 2015.”

According to Jordan Bateman, the BC director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF),”It will be another expensive year for taxpayers, as we hand out more money to government… With MSP, EI, CPP, B.C. Hydro, ICBC and B.C. Ferries all going up, it’s no wonder ‘B.C.’ is joked to be short for ‘Bring Cash.'”

And then there is TransLink’s proposed regional 0.5-per-cent increase in the sales tax to fund its $7.5-billion transit plan for Metro Vancouver.

That new tax will go to a referendum vote this spring. And if it passes, it will see the average household pay an additional $258 a year.

So it will be quite difficult for many to save money unless the slumbering giant of debt is tackled in some meaningful way. A good start would be to take a look at my list of 5 sure-fire ways to pay off debt and avoid new debt this year.

I believe that we all can do better from year to year. The secret is to know what the most important things are in your life and being realistic in setting new goals.

Happy New Year everyone.

I will leave you with three website lists of New Year’s resolutions.

Time Magazine

  1. Lose Weight and Get Fit
  2. Quit Smoking
  3. Learn Something New
  4. Eat Healthier and Diet
  5. Get Out of Debt and Save Money
  6. Spend More Time with Family
  7. Travel to New Places
  8. Be Less Stressed
  9. Volunteer
  10. Drink Less

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Volunteer to Help Others
  3. Quit Smoking
  4. Get a Better Education
  5. Get a Better Job
  6. Save Money
  7. Get Fit
  8. Eat Healthy Food
  9. Manage Stress
  10. Manage Debt
  11. Take a Trip
  12. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
  13. Drink Less Alcohol

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Getting Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  5. Staying Fit and Healthy
  6. Learn Something Exciting
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Help Others in Their Dreams
  9. Fall in Love
  10. Spend More Time with Family

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