IT’S the time of year for making New Year's resolutions – yes, the ones we all break by mid-January!
But this week I'm going to give you a double incentive to get organised and start thinking of a few by considering the value to your pocket.
Most of the things we like to indulge in cost lots of money, so giving them up is healthy for your bank balance and your body!
Drink is expensive whether you buy it at the supermarket or in the pub. Taxes and excise duties mean that over half the price of a €8 bottle of wine goes directly into Mr Noonan's pocket.
A couple of bottles of half-decent |wine or four pints of beer every week |is around €20 – that's €1,040 in a year |if you don't splash out on rounds or more expensive tipples.
It's the equivalent of eight weeks of family grocery shopping, or the annual vehicle tax AND insurance for an average family car!
Someone on a hefty 20-a-day habit will spend around €3,150 on their addiction in 2014 . Most of it will go to the Government, which in turn will spend around €13bn, |or €2,800 on every man, woman and child in the country, to provide healthcare during the coming year.
There is no illness not made worse by smoking. Please make 2014 your year to give it up. The saving would cover a great family holiday abroad, or pay for all your heating and electricity bills for the whole year.
Gyms can cost anything from €250 to €1,000 a year, but how expensive is that in real terms? Work out a cost-per-use to see if they’re really worthwhile.
If you're paying €50 a month but only going once a week, it's costing you |€12.50 each time. Go three times a week, and it's just €4.16 each visit.
You could also decide to DIY it – there are now great offers for exercise equipment to use at home.
Aldi, for example, has 2.5kg and 5kg kettle bells for €7.99 each, and gym balls and mats for just €6.99, available from January 2. Add in some long bracing walks and you're set.
Forget expensive diet dinners and foods.
In truth, many of them are just tiny portions (no wonder you lose weight!) that are packed with sugar. The very |best tip to a slimmer you in 2014 is learning to cook differently.
It can be handy to stick a diet meal into the microwave when you come in from work and are tired and hungry, but if it doesn't fill you up, you'll be tempted to snack on carbs later on.
In the winter, there's nothing nicer than casseroles, stews and soups.
Make batches at the weekend, or while you're watching the EastEnders omnibus, and freeze them in lunchboxes, or paper coffee cups covered in foil. Include lots of root vegetables such as carrots, butternut squash, turnip and parsnip to bulk out your casseroles.
This year, I discovered the fabulousness of lentils and butterbeans, which are fantastic in everything.
Branded diet meals can cost you around a fiver for each one.
The saving will pay for as much fruit and veg as you want, along with lots of store cupboard ingredients such as pulses to pack a healthy punch in 2014.