(BPT) – In 2019, many Americans are planning for a “better me” in the year ahead. Gym memberships and diets are at the top of many lists, but what about financial health? Losing debt can be just as important as losing pounds, and financial fitness just as important as physical fitness.
According to a new survey from Marcus by Goldman Sachs(R), 74 percent of Americans think their financial well-being has an impact on their overall health and 64 percent feel they are not in the best financial shape they could be. On top of that, half of those surveyed (50 percent) think it’s easier to get into better physical shape than financial shape and 59 percent consider tracking expenses and budgeting to be more stressful than trying a new workout.
Although New Year’s resolutions to improve financial fitness may seem daunting, they are achievable, and their effects can be significant. While it is important to pump iron and feel great physically, it is equally beneficial to pump up your savings and take steps to secure your financial future. Here are five simple ways to help achieve better financial fitness in 2019:
1. Trim down debt: Eliminating debt is a worthy goal shared by many — 78 percent of those surveyed would rather get rid of their debt than lose weight. Consider instead a debt consolidation personal loan such as those provided by Marcus by Goldman Sachs(R), which offers fixed-rate, no-fee personal loans that could help save on interest when compared to high-interest variable rate credit cards.
2. Set a realistic budget: Every financial fitness plan should start by establishing a budget that is both effective and achievable. The first step in creating one is to identify your essentials like mortgage or rent, car payments, tuition loans — and determine how much each of these expenses cost you per month. Next, average your spending in key categories that occur on an ongoing basis, such as food, gas, clothing, commuting costs and your gym membership. Combine those two figures to determine what your actual expenses and monthly budget are, and any money left over can be considered discretionary. Part of each month’s discretionary budget should be dedicated in advance to savings. Financial fitness introduces a level of discipline to help people make a proactive commitment to saving each month.
3. Shred unwanted subscriptions: With a budget in place, it’s all about tracking expenses and ensuring that your spending aligns with what your budget requires. There are many free tools that can help do the work, such as the personal financial management app Clarity Money, which monitors recurring expenses and helps with eliminating unwanted subscriptions. Keeping a tighter rein on your spending makes it easier to trim costs and stick to your budget year-round.
4. Pump up your savings: Look for savings accounts with higher rates that can help your money make more money. A high-yield Online Savings Account from Marcus by Goldman Sachs can earn 4X the national average, with a 2.25 percent APY (annual percentage yield). There is no minimum deposit required, making it an easy way to begin growing your savings with the cash you already have.
5. Find a workout partner: Working out with a partner at the gym helps to establish shared goals, while encouraging accountability. The same is true for financial fitness. Your path to better financial health could accelerate if you can partner with a family member, friend or significant other who’s also interested in their financial well-being. Plan monthly check-ins, arrange mini-competitions for saving more and organize “no spend days” together. You’ll keep each other responsible and build positive mutual support along the way.
For more information on approachable solutions to your financial management and to get a financial workout plan, head to Marcus.com/financialfitness.”
 Annual Percentage Yield (APY) may change at any time, before or after account is opened. APY as of [January 7, 2019]. $1 minimum to earn stated APY. A maximum of six withdrawals or transfers per monthly statement period are allowed. Maximum balance limits apply.