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Brits put wealth above health on new year’s resolution list

A survey has revealed that an increasing number of people are opting to focus on sorting out their personal finances in the new year, rather than kick-starting 2012 with a health drive.

Research carried out at the same time by moneysupermarket.com and gocompare.com has shown that traditional resolutions, such as quitting smoking or going to the gym more, have been displaced by a need to get in a better position financially for many.

Go Compare, who regularly carry out a new year’s survey, said that it usually sees getting fit at the top of nearly everyone’s wish list, but this year, the emphasis has changed to financial goals for the vast majority of those asked.

Cutting back on the amount being paid out was one of the most popular financial goals, with 40% of those interviewed giving this as their top resolution, whilst 35% said they would be focusing on clearing their debts.

Gym memberships traditionally soar in January and it can be difficult to find room in a class, whilst by the end of February things have returned to normal, as many of the well-meaning resolutions fizzle out. However, the trend seems to have reversed this year, with two out of three people who hold gym memberships planning on cancelling them in order to save money and cut back on unnecessary expenditure.

Of the individuals interviewed, around one in two said their financial situation was top of their priorities and would be their focus for 2012. Whilst health has taken second place to concerns over debt and money, it still remains high up on the list, with more than four in ten saying they would either lose weight or get fitter, whilst one in three has vowed to eat healthier food.

More traditional resolutions such as stopping smoking, giving up or drinking less alcohol and getting a new job all featured on many people’s wishlist, with 14%, 10% and 12%, respectively, of Brits naming these as their goals. Spending more quality time with loved ones was also popular, with 14% citing this as one of their most important goals for 2012.

An estimated 26 million people will make at least one new year’s resolution in the UK, but despite the good intentions, four in ten have given up by the end of January, with the vast majority failing to change their behaviour for longer than six months.

Moneysupermarket said that its research showed that nearly one in four Brits is feeling stressed on a daily basis due to fears over their future finances, with just over one in five saying their current money woes are causing them to feel uptight. The cost of fuel, increased bills, as well as rising debts, were all cited as reasons for there being less money left at the end of the month.

The survey results from Go Compare and Moneysupermarket were echoed by a separate poll carried out by rplan, a financial website. The group found that whilst financial goals were clearly in many men’s minds, women – and more specifically women aged thirty-something – were those who were the most likely to have targeted their finances as the primary aim for the next twelve months. Putting more money into savings plans, as well as spending less on non-essential items, were the two main goals purporting to personal finance.

The head of rplan, Andy Creak, described 2011 as being a ‘near-impossible juggling act’ for many households across the country, unable to balance the immediate financial needs of the family with the desire to put some money away, as they were faced with the spectre of high inflation, coupled with austerity measures.

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