Are you ready to succeed in your New Year's resolutions?
According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute's 2015 survey on New Year's resolutions, 45% of Americans make resolutions at the turn of the year. Forty-nine percent have "infrequent success," 24% fail year after year. When all is said and done, this leaves only 8% of Americans actually succeeding in their resolutions.
Needless to say, the odds are not in your favor when it makes to keeping your New Year's resolutions. Does this mean that you should just give up on the practice?
Absolutely not. In fact, the same study found that those who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than those sad souls who don't. If this is true, however, then what's the catch? How can you bridge the gap from making resolutions (a good thing) to keeping them (an awesome thing)?
Whether your New Year's resolution (assuming you're making one at all) is to get physically fit, to get your financial life back in order, or just to live life to its fullest, it takes more than good intentions to make your resolution a reality. Experts say it takes self-determination, diligent planning, and strong intrinsic motivation to be one of that stellar 8%. Undoubtedly, you also need the right tools and resources to succeed.
While we here at The Best Companys.com aren't necessarily experts at resolution fulfillment, we are experts at gauging which companies are going to deliver the best product or service for your needs, according to our own analysis and the reviews of real customers.
So as you set off in 2016 to lose those last stubborn 15 pounds or wipe out your credit card debt for good, here are seven top-rated products and services to help you finally make that New Year's resolution a reality:
In 2015, the single most common New Year's resolution for Americans was losing weight. And in 2014, 2013, 2012, and pretty much every year in recent memory. Nearly all of us feel like we could stand to lose some padding, and that manifests itself in how we all vow to be better in the coming year. Too often, however, we hit a roadblock when it comes to tracking our activity and calories and staying motivated.
Luckily, fitness trackers make this easier. The best among these is the Fitbit, scored high by our team and customers alike. With six different models-priced from $60 to $250-to choose from, Fitbit monitors your overall activity level throughout the day and even while you're sleeping. The Fitbit Zip, the simplest model, clips onto your belt or shoe and tracks only steps taken, calories burned, and distance covered per day-it's a high-end pedometer. But their fully loaded model, the Fitbit Surge, is pretty much an exercise-centric smartwatch that tracks your sleep, what sports you participate in, your heart rate, and your location (via GPS), and even lets you take calls and texts and control your music.
Do all these features work? The short answer is, yes. Being able to see how active you are (or aren't), how much sleep you're actually getting, and the state of your diet in one place-without having to track all of this information manually-keeps users motivated. And, according to customer reviews, Fitbit excels at fixing or replacing their product when problems do arise. For this reason, our team gave Fitbit a high score of 8.4, and actual customers have given it an average score of 7.8.
To see if Fitbit might work for someone like you, we recommend visiting their site, which is chock-full of inspiring success stories from users of the product.
For many people, their New Year's fitness goals require that they take their fitness to the next level, so they find themselves browsing different exercise programs. Crossfit? Zumba? P90X? You want to make sure you choose something you can handle while still getting a challenge. The wrong exercise program can get you injured or turn you off completely to exercise.
Enter Les Mills. At an affordable price, Les Mills has a variety of different programs for people of all fitness levels, and you can find them at more than 15,000 clubs and gyms in the U.S. and over 80 other countries around the globe. If you can't make it to a gym (or just don't like gyms) Les Mills also offers video workouts that you can do at home.
"We loved it," says customer Lisa in her TBC review. "I looked forward to working out every day to this program because the leaders are entertaining, constantly encouraging, they do it with you and I love their accents!"
Lisa and other customers scored Les Mills 8.9, on average. The Best Companys.com scored them at 7.8, making them easily the highest-rated exercise program on our site. If you're looking for an exercise program to help you get fit in 2016, this is the best recommendation we can give.
The 10th most common New Year's resolution is to "spend more time with family and loved ones." For many people, this will mean scheduling some much-needed rest and relaxation away from home. And when it comes to travel agencies and hotel booking sites, no company is as highly rated as Expedia.
Our team rated Expedia a 7.3 out of 10, placing it well above any of its competitors, for its generous membership benefits and money-saving package deals. They also carry a solid "A" rating with the Better Business Bureau, which is a reliable sign that, when customer concerns arise, Expedia does a good job of resolving those concerns. This makes it a good bet if you and your family are planning some together time via vacation in 2016.
Few resolutions are as common as saving more and spending less, especially given the current economic climate. In fact, in 2015, this resolution ranked third overall. For folks who still want to go out to eat, take a vacation, or buy something special, deal sites offer a way to have these finer things without paying full price. The current top-ranked deal site is Groupon.
According to some experts, Groupon's discounts range from 50% to as much as 90% off regular prices. Of course, those deals hinge on a certain number of customers participating in the deal. But as Groupon continues to grow, this becomes less and less of a concern. Also, their customer service, for those sticky situations where things go wrong with your purchase, are reported to be top notch.
"I've been using Groupon for a couple of years," reported Groupon customer Ellen Simard. "Customer service is awesome. I had an issue twice, once with having trouble making arrangements to use the groupon for horseback riding and another with a company that closed. Both times the problem was taken care of. I would recommend them to everyone."
It's hard to save money when you're interest on credit cards is piling up faster than you can pay it off. NerdWallet's 2015 American Credit Card Debt Study found that the average household pays a total of $6,658 in interest per year. So naturally, if you're saddled with debt, like most of us are, your 2016 plan for saving more and spending less better include a way to reduce the amount you pay in interest every month.
Fortunately, there are some stellar debt consolidation and settlement companies that can help you bring those interest rates-and, by extension, those monthly payments-down. Foremost among these companies is DebtWave, which provides credit counseling services and a debt consolidation plan designed to help customers get debt-free in three to five years.
The sixth most common New Year's resolution is to "learn something exciting." For some-those with more lofty ambitions-this can mean taking college courses or even earning a college degree. And since not everyone is in a position to pursue a college education at their local college campus, people often look to online degree programs.
If you take a look at the benefits and risks of the over 600 online schools in the U.S. alone, you quickly start to realize that not all of these programs are worth your time. Some are happy enough to help you take out student loans to pay them, but then offer very little in terms of education and service. Even well-known some online schools like University of Phoenix have been lambasted for having shockingly low graduation rates.
Luckily, there are some online schools, like Boston University, that deliver the kind of quality education you would expect from the best traditional universities. Scored most highly by our staff in the category of online schools, BU excels at this because they are a traditional university that has moved only recently into offering courses and programs online, with all expertise, academic rigor, and assistance you could expect from a top university.
What if you want to learn something new this year but aren't looking for something quite so rigorous as a college degree. For those who are looking to learn something new on a more casual basis, Audible presents thousands of audiobook options.
Yes, they have plenty of fiction for you to indulge in during your workout or commute, but they offer thousands of nonfiction titles in such categories as:
Access to these titles starts at $14.95 (which gets you one audiobook per month) while $22.95 per month gets two titles, for those with larger literary appetites. But it's not just the selection and price that customers like-they also love Audible's smartphone app, free returns policy, and customer service.
Determination. Planning and forethought. Intrinsic motivation. Of course, these are just as vital to your New Year's resolution success as any product or service you could purchase to help you meet these goals. Going with a bad product or service, however, can kill your aspirations and momentum altogether. By doing a little homework on the tools you could use to meet your resolutions, you make it much more likely that you will be in that successful 8% in 2016.