16 Small Things To Do Today That You’ll Be Proud of in a Year

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It's been said that if you can change one bad habit, you will likely change another. This list will show you how establishing better habits can pay off later. Watch how making small changes will benefit your lifestyle in just one year. You can absolutely have a better life, might as well start today!

1. Create a Tradition With Your Friends

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My best college friends and I made a tradition of spending St. Patrick’s Day together yearly. This March holiday makes for fun festivities all over the world and is equidistant between the Christmas chaos and summer soirees. Pick whatever dates make sense for your group and plan accordingly. Buying plane tickets as early as possible can significantly cut travel expenses. 

2. Sign Up for a CSA

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Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a preferred way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer over the past 25 years. Participants purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week in return throughout the farming season.

You'll find that you cook more and dine out less if you've got an appropriately stocked fridge to work with. Enliven your taste buds by eating vitamin-rich fresh food and getting exposed to new vegetables and cooking methods.  

3. Set a Goal To Keep The Car Parked (At Least!) One Day a Week

bike ride
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Walk when you can walk. It's that simple. If you're not within walking distance from your destination of choice, ride a bike or use public transit. You'll reduce spending on gas and feeding the meter, both favorable options. Before I sold my car altogether, I elected for lazy Sundays. Enjoy the slow pace. Say you make a trip to the grocery store; you'll get only what you truly need versus what you want, saving you bucks and burning calories while you're at it. Walking is the most painless exercise ever!

4. Get a Library Card

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Odds are there is a library located closer than you realize. Checking out books is a low-commitment way to nurture your curiosity and a much cheaper alternative to shopping at the bookstore. If you buy at least one book per month (I tried the Kindle and just can't give in), you'll save hundreds of dollars per year. For those books you've already purchased, wipe the dust off and pass them around! Starting a book-borrowing club with friends is just as easy as a trip to the library, and it's more social too.

5. Buy (Or Make) Your Hostess Gifts in Bulk

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My mom gives Seda France Travel Tin candles as hostess gifts and attaches a calling card with a short, personal note. Take her trick one step further and browse discount sites like Amazon for bottom-of-the-barrel prices, or even better, find a local company to support. Then up the quantity and hold onto them; this way, there will be no last-minute splurges on the way to the party.

6. Craft up Some Holiday Decorations That You Can Store and Reuse Annually

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In 2011, I made a banner out of rope and some glitter letter accessories I found on clearance. Originally a bedroom art piece, I realized that it would make for a super playful holiday decoration. I have a box designated for handmade decorations that I can reuse each year, thus enabling a custom, cost-effective look for years to come.

7. Set up Automatic Bill Pay for All Your Utilities and Credit Card Bills

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Steady progress helps these hard heads of ours stay motivated. Set reasonable expectations for yourself when it comes to your automatic payment. Then, spend responsibly throughout the month and make an additional payment at the end of your billing cycle if you can afford to.

8. Pick a Friend To Start a Bartering System With

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An article in the Los Angeles Times discussed how decorator Emily Henderson and graphic designer/blogger Bri Emery exchange talents to avoid spending big. There's no reason you can't do the same with a friend!

9. Start Brown-Bagging Your Lunch Today

Brown bag lunch, pack lunch, school lunch
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Packing makes perfect. While lunch break is undoubtedly more stimulating at a bustling restaurant, this simple change could save you hundreds of dollars monthly. Dine with your close friends and make it count, not with your smartphone at the bar counter.

10. Take up Tennis or Pickleball

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Find a racket in decent condition at the thrift shop or on Craigslist, and have a friend show you the ropes of these fun sports. Check out your closest park to find public courts. These are super social, super sweaty activities that'll do wonders for your body without the monthly membership fee of a gym.

11. Plant Something

Peonies, flowers
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Make a trip to the garden center you'll be patting yourself on the back for years to come. Even better, plant a variety of things so you'll have blooms in each of the seasons.

12. Contribute to your 401K  

Take it or Leave it? Handling Your 401(k) When You Quit
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Let's just do it, okay? We'll be smirking next year and grinning into our 60s and beyond.

13. Don't Just Brew Your Coffee, Ditch Your Clunky Coffee Maker for The Cone

Drip coffee, coffee cones
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Fresher coffee, fewer debit card swipes. Win-win. Boil just enough water to fill your own cup of coffee and pour it over a cone that holds a filter of coffee grinds. If you want more than one cup, boil more water. Easy.

14. Pick a Color, Any Color:  Start Painting Your Own Nails

Closeup of a young woman's hand with pink fake nails.
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Just like you might have a signature perfume, select a signature color for your nails. In college, my friends knew me for having ballet-pink nails. This simple gesture customizes your look, making you look both fashionable and professional. One bottle of nail polish versus routine manicures – you do the math.

15. Buy The Nice Winter Wear off The Sales Rack

Female Shopper In Thrift Store Looking At Clothes
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You’ll be happy next year when you have high-quality knits, coats, and ski wear come the first snow of next year, especially since you got it for 60% off.

16. Take That Bag of Unwanted Clothing to The Consignment Shop Already

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You know what threads from past seasons you're willing to part with. Merchandise takes a while to move off the floor at consignment shops, so that's why it's important to make the cumbersome trip now. Put a quarterly reminder on your phone to call in and check on your profits. Greater returns are possible by exchanging profit for store credit, so why don’t you call specifically when a wardrobe update would be ideal, like near an event?

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