Why Your New Year's Resolution Should Start on Thanksgiving Day

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox photo If you're thinking about making a New Year's Resolution of any kind -- maybe to lose weight, pay off debt or stop a bad habit like smoking -- waiting until January 1 to get started is probably the single worst thing you can do.

Instead, commit to implementing your resolution beginning on Thanksgiving Day.

Why Thanksgiving?
  • You'll avoid sabotaging yourself
  • You'll get a head start on creating a better you
  • You'll make your goal easier to reach
The period between Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Eve is the six-week timeframe when people inflict the most personal, financial and health damage on themselves -- often because they know they're planning to change their ways at the beginning of the year.

If your goal is to become debt-free and manage your money right, what sense does it make to spend November and December adding hundreds or maybe even a thousand dollars or more worth of credit-card debt to your already long list of bills?Thank God my days of having lingering credit card bills are over. Like many Americans, though, I'm still working on shedding those unwanted pounds.

So I've been thinking lately about the links between excessive debt and excessive weight, and the behavior that can cause (or correct) both. Is there a correlation?

Lose the Debt, Lose the Weight?

Some experts think the two issues are actually very related.

"There are a lot of similarities between dieting and finances," says Rich Coppa, Managing Director of Wealth Health LLC, a Roseland, N.J. financial advisory firm.

"When people want to lose weight, they always focus exclusively on their weight, that number on the scale," Coppa notes. "But there are other metrics that also determine your overall health, like your blood pressure, BMI (Body Mass Index), or your good and bad cholesterol."

Similarly, those trying to improve their finances also often make the mistake, Coppa says, of getting caught up on a single number. Wealthy individuals, Coppa says, obsess over their investment return rates, without considering what risks might have to be taken to generate those fat returns.

Those who are broke and in debt may simply focus on their problem – say, having $20,000 in credit card bills – and may just hone in on that, without really looking at what got them into financial difficulties.

But no matter what your starting point, and no matter where you wind up, it's important to ask yourself "how did I get there?" Coppa advises.

So how will you get where you want to be in 2011? Will you reach your personal and financial goals by jumpstarting your resolutions now? Or will you struggle to achieve your dreams because you've spent weeks doing things that put those dreams further out of reach?

According to the National Institutes of Health, the average person gains just one pound over the holidays, while obese people gain about five pounds during the holidays. Needless to say, it's the folks who are already overweight who are more likely to be making resolutions to get in shape.

After Thanksgiving, scores of Americans will go on shopping splurges, starting on Black Friday, continuing on Cyber Monday, and lasting throughout the month of December. Little wonder, then, that most New Year's Resolutions are related to food, money or personal growth/restraint.

So instead of waiting until New Year's Day to start doing something you already know you should be doing, try a different approach this year.

Kick off your New Year's Resolution – whether financial, physical, spiritual or otherwise – on Thanksgiving Day.

That way, when next Thanksgiving rolls around and you've been successful in reaching your goal, you'll have one additional item to add to the list of things for which you're grateful.

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