John Weekes

John Weekes is an NZME. News Service reporter based in Wellington.

Consumer Watch: Cash in on better habits

New Year's resolutions are often difficult to stick to and require some upfront investment. But, as John Weekes reports, they can turn out to be money-spinners.

Resolve to get fit this new year. Photo / Thinkstock
Resolve to get fit this new year. Photo / Thinkstock

Quit smoking

The perennial resolution for thousands of New Zealanders should gain steam when price rises for cigarettes kick in next month. Quitline said 8222 people signed up with its smoking-cessation service last January and it expected a similar number next month.

The average Kiwi smoker consumes 11 cigarettes a day, or 200 packs a year, meaning quitters could save about $3500 next year.

Auckland maitre d'hotel Tatjana Selir averages seven cigarettes a day, and this year spent about $1900 on her habit. Selir had tried quitting before but was sceptical about saving money. "You always pick up another habit even if you do quit smoking."

A Quitline spokeswoman said those who get through the first six months are likely to stay off ciggies. Of those who joined Quitline last January, 24.2 per cent were still smoke-free by June and 20.9 per cent were smoke-free this week.

According to ASH (Action and Smoking and Health), poor people are nearly three times more likely to smoke than the wealthiest 20 per cent.


Drink less

After the sore heads and empty wallets of the silly season, drinking less is a popular goal every New Year.

Software salesman Nathaniel Holman said he wanted to cut down on drinking in 2013.

With Auckland pint prices now often topping $10, Holman thought a realistic goal was to spend $50 less on booze each week.

If he puts that cash aside he will save $2600 by next Christmas. His wife, Belinda, had stopped drinking coffee to pay for a TV.


Get fit

Auckland personal trainer Marcus Steward said people would break even if they were prepared to spend money to get fit. Cutting back on eating and drinking were often outcomes when people committed to getting healthy. Also, job prospects often go up and health costs go down with enhanced fitness, Steward says. Fit people have stronger immune systems and are less likely to need medicine or fall ill.

Acoustic engineer Jacqueline Bittl said she had ditched the gym but was still keen to get fit. "I stopped going to the gym because it got too expensive. Playing sport is free."

Sport New Zealand says the health and productivity benefits of sport add $1 billion to our economy, reducing the burden on taxpayers who fork out for public services such as healthcare.

Student Sophie Plunket said most young women wanted to lose weight in the New Year. She resolved to spend an hour on the treadmill each day.


Cut up your credit card

Dumping the credit card remains a pipe dream for people hooked on a culture of unconscious spending, says money coach Jill Porter.

But with a change in attitude, almost anyone can ditch the piece of plastic in the New Year.

Credit cards were once a must for anyone who bought goods online, but debit cards are now a much safer option.

"One of the reasons people get into problems with consumer debt like credit cards is that it's very unconscious spending.

"If you are taking money out of the account you live on, you're forced to deal in reality."


Learn a new language

Learning a new tongue can seem a daunting process - but it can boost job prospects.

"There are now roles in the workforce that require employees to speak Te Reo, such as in broadcasting, policy and government," Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples said.

Maori-language teachers with less than three years' experience can earn up to $55,000 per year, according to Careers.govt.nz.

Those with more than four years' experience can earn up to $71,000 - $30,000 more than the average New Zealand salary.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 20 Dec 2014 23:35:21 Processing Time: 486ms