Realistic Resolutions & How to Keep Them

Make 2021 the Year of You by setting yourself up for success when setting your goals. “Go big or go home!” is a great motto for many things in life, but not so much when you’re trying to keep your New Year’s resolutions.  

In fact, one of the reasons so many people fail to keep their resolutions is because they’re setting their sights too high. If your goals are too lofty, they start to feel unattainable. And if they’re unattainable, why even bother? 

“There’s nothing wrong with taking bold action. Life and happiness occasionally demand it,” explains author B.J. Fogg in his book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything. “But remember that you hear about people making big changes because this is the exception, not the rule.”

This year, instead of setting stretch goals that you’re likely to abandon by the end of the month, try making realistic resolutions that will improve your life in small ways. Here are a few of our resolutions and how we plan to keep them (and save some money in the process).

Make meals at home

No one would deny the importance of a healthy diet. But vowing to cut out all carbs or stick to a strict calorie cap can take all the pleasure out of eating. And if you’re using an all-or-nothing approach, you may give up entirely after the first slip-up. 

Instead, we’re resolving to make more meals at home this year. Cutting back on eating out and delivery is one of the easiest ways to automatically eat better, since restaurant dishes are often packed with butter, oil, salt, sugar, and other ingredients that can derail your healthy-eating aspirations. 

If you’re not already a home chef, don’t begin by trying to make complicated meals with hard-to-find ingredients every night. Find a few easy recipes and build from there. Or, if you’re not sure where to start with home cooking, try a meal kit subscription like Blue Apron, HelloFresh, or Green Chef. Keep staples on hand for nights when you’re not up to cooking – there’s no shame in a simple PB&J or bowl of cereal for dinner every now and then!

Pro tip: Whether you’re shopping in-store, picking up curbside, or getting groceries or meal kits delivered, you can earn cash back on your food purchases when you shop with Ibotta. Learn more about how to save on grocery shopping essentials.

Get moving

Running a marathon is a great goal — if you’re already a runner and have plenty of shorter races under your belt. But for most of us, we need to start by simply moving more throughout the day.   

If you’re new to exercise (or trying to get back in the habit), resolve to incorporate more movement into your day-to-day life before committing to an intense workout regimen or splurging on fancy equipment. For example, you might decide to take the stairs once a day, or park at the far end of the lot when you’re running errands. 

You can even start super small! Fogg says that a “tiny habit” should be something you do at least once a day that takes you less than 30 seconds and that requires little effort — something like doing five squats every morning while your coffee brews. Will it immediately get you in tip-top shape or help you shed 10 pounds? No, but the aim is to gradually build on these small successes. 

Pro tip: Even the most frugal walkers, yogis, and workout buffs need the right gear to get moving and avoid injuries. Shop retailers like Academy Sports + Outdoors, Foot Locker, Athleta, Adidas, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Under Armour, Nike, New Balance, and more through Ibotta to earn cash back on exercise shoes, clothing, and equipment.

Read more

This is a popular one, but many well-intentioned readers set the bar too high with a huge yearly reading goal. Do you really have time to read an entire book every week to hit 52 by the end of the year? 

If your goal is to read more, set yourself up for success with a smaller, daily goal, For instance, this year author Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project) is resolving to read for 21 minutes every day in 2021. And don’t limit yourself when it comes to reading material or format: books, magazines, newspapers, graphic novels, essays, comic books, e-readers, and audiobooks all count! 

Pro tip: Whether you prefer physical books, e-books, audiobooks, or a mix of all of them, you can save money on your reading material when you shop with Ibotta. Earn cash back on physical books from retailers like Barnes & Noble, Walmart and eBay, or take advantage of Amazon’s 30-day free trials of Audible and Kindle Unlimited when you sign up through the Ibotta app.

Clean it up

If you resolve to deep clean your home once a week, you’ll quickly find yourself dreading Sunday afternoons when you’ve inevitably put off the task all week. Again, the key is to choose a smaller, realistic resolution that will give you the confidence and motivation to do more as time goes on. 

In his commencement speech to the 2014 graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin, Admiral William H. McRaven gave this surprising piece of advice: “If you want to change the world, start by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another.”

Another daily task you can do without feeling overwhelmed: shining your sink. Cleaning and organizing guru Marla Cilley, known as The FlyLady, says that a shiny sink is the foundation of her entire cleaning approach, which is based on a series of baby steps. (Are you seeing a pattern here?) “Many of you can’t understand why I want you to empty your sink of your dirty dishes and clean and shine it when there is so much more to do,” Cilley says. “It is so simple; I want you to have a sense of accomplishment!”

Pro tip: Earn cash back when you stock up on cleaning supplies (to shine your sink every night) or new bedding (to motivate you to make your bed each morning) from Ibotta retail partners like Bed Bath & Beyond, The Container Store, Crate and Barrel, Target, Walmart, grocery stores, and drug stores. 

Meet your money goals

Getting out of debt or saving up for a major purchase are great big-picture goals, but a New Year’s resolution should ideally be something you can accomplish this year

So, think of a realistic resolution that can help you make tangible progress in the next few months. May we suggest Ibotta? If you resolve to check Ibotta every time before you shop, you could earn enough cash back over the course of a year to make a real dent in your money goals, whatever they may be. These are just a few of the ways you can use Ibotta to support your New Year’s resolutions, but you can find Ibotta offers and retailers for almost any purchase, from travel and entertainment to health and beauty to pet supplies. Here are 5 more ways to budget with Ibotta!

*Offer only valid for new users and excludes grocery purchases and purchases made on the Ibotta mobile app. May take up to 90 days to receive credit.