Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Reporting on the cost of New Year’s resolutions

December 28, 2017

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New Year's resolutions come with a pricetag. Here are four stories to report. (Calendar image by "ulleo via Pixabay, CCO Creative Commons)
New Year’s resolutions come with a pricetag. Here are four stories to report. (Calendar image by “ulleo via Pixabay, CCO Creative Commons)

The New Year typically arrives with resolutions such as eating more healthfully and getting in shape. What’s not always discussed is that those hopeful agendas have an impact on personal finances. Here are four story ideas to develop about the monetary consequences of resolving to live a better life.

Going to the gym

The average monthly gym membership costs $58. If your readers resolve to get in shape in 2018, they should prepare to shell out $700 or so over the course of the year. That seems reasonable until you consider that the average person only goes to the gym twice a week and that by month six, 44 percent of people hit the gym only four times a month. That’s $14.50 per visit.

On the flip side, people who stick with a fitness program may qualify for reduced healthcare premiums with certain insurers, as well as financial rewards from employers with wellness programs.

Quitting smoking

According to the CDC, smoking costs the U.S. $300 billion a year, including medical care for adults and loss in productivity due to premature deaths and exposure to secondhand smoke. The average price of cigarettes in the U.S. is $5.51. For pack-a-day smokers, quitting can save over $2,000 a year. That number soars in states like Illinois, where the price of a pack of cigarettes can be over $10.

But there’s another figure to report. Most people have a better chance at quitting after using nicotine replacements. The average cost of nicotine replacements is $4.83 dollars per day. It’s worth comparing both the cost of tobacco and replacements with the long-term financial burden of continuing to smoke.

Eating healthier

Depending on who you ask, food costs rise when you resolve to eat healthfully. This Harvard School of Public Health analysis of multiple studies took in factors such as cost per calorie and amount of food consumed, and concluded that a healthier daily diet costs $1.50 more a day than a less healthy one. More proof: Organic food costs more than non-organic options.

And then there’s the fast food angle. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that Americans spend over $7,000 on food annually, with almost half of that going toward the purchase of fast food. Finding out how people spend their money on other food choices could be a good story.

Shopping less

Another common New Year’s resolution is to spend less on nonessential shopping. In a poll by, 84 percent of respondents admitted to impulse buying. More than half spent $100 on impulse buys and 20 percent spent at least $1,000.

The study says that tangible items that are in front of a consumer trigger the impulse spending. As malls and brick-and-mortar retailers continue to decline, it will be worth watching to see if impulse buying starts to fall as more people shop online.

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