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The 10 Most Common New Year's Resolutions and How They Can Make You Rich

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In less than 24 hours, the ball at Times Square in New York will drop and 2013 will be no more. This also means it's that time of year when millions of Americans will make New Year's resolutions that often revolve around their own health or well-being.

For a moment, let's put aside the fact that a vast majority of those who attempt to change themselves for the better through New Year's resolution will fail within the first couple of weeks, and instead focus on that percentage of the population who will be eating healthier and living better in the new year. That, right there, could be your recipe to riches.

Source: Anthony Quintano, Flickr

With that in mind, let's use a recent Harris Poll that examined the 10 most common New Year's resolutions to find a few ways that these resolutions could help lead you to a happy retirement... if that's your New Year's resolution, of course.

Here are the 10 most common New Year's resolutions, according to Harris, and some intriguing ways to prosper from them: 

1. Lose weight
Year in and year out there's no resolution more popular than losing weight. It makes a lot of sense, given that we're coming out of our four-week food-induced coma known as Thanksgiving and Christmas and now need to return to our normal lives for the other 11 months of the year.

A company I would really suggest keeping your eyes on in this case is Orexigen Therapeutics (NASDAQ: OREX  ) , whose experimental drug, Contrave, for chronic weight management, was resubmitted to the Food and Drug Administration three weeks ago. Although Contrave was rejected in 2011, it comes back to the table now with a bevy of long-term safety data (the Light Study) demonstrating the effectiveness of its weight-loss drug without any adverse events outside of the norm.

2. Improve financial budgeting
Not far behind losing unwanted pounds is the desire by Americans to make better use of their money. Practically every year over the past seven decades, we've witnessed consumer credit debt head higher, meaning more consumers are relying on money they don't have to make their purchases.

Rather than focusing on any particular stock, I believe the best thing you can do here is to maximize your retirement income. If you're considering a budget overhaul in 2014, make sure it includes an individual retirement account, if applicable. A Traditional IRA allows you (based on income limits) to contribute and deduct up to $5,500 annually while deferring your taxes for when you begin making withdrawals at age 59 1/2. A Roth IRA, on the other hand, might be perfect for young adults. Even though it allows for no upfront tax deduction, all capital gains grow completely free of taxation over time.

3. Exercise more
Since weight loss and exercise sort of go hand-in-hand, seeing exercise pop up as the third-most common New Year's resolution isn't surprising.

Rather than focusing on gyms, which often have high turnover rates and little consumer loyalty, I suggest an area where customers do exhibit loyalty, such as with their shoes. Consumer actions sports and footwear juggernaut Nike (NYSE: NKE) is reliant on Americans remaining active and wanting to improve their physical health. This swoosh has amazing brand power and should have no trouble helping those who wants to improve their exercise routine in 2014.

4. Get a new/better job
In addition to managing their money more effectively, a good number of Americans would like to get a new job in 2014 that would make them happier as well as financially better off.

Source: Nan Palmero, Flickr.

There are two potential ways of going about this. One is obviously to go after a job you'd enjoy with a reputable company – such as The Motley Fool, which was recently named the No. 1 mid-size company to work for in the U.S., according to

Happy, but shameless, plug aside, another consideration here is professional networking site LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD  ) , which reported more than 259 million members on its website as of the third-quarter, a 9% improvement over the sequential quarter. With premium subscription and talent solutions revenue demonstrating rapid growth, LinkedIn is poised to take advantage of consumers' desires for a better job. 

5. Eat healthfully
In addition to exercising and losing weight, Americans also need to eat more nutritious foods. Traditionally, January is the month most restaurants loathe because it means reduced business as people choose to cook their food at home.

A grocery chain like Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM  ) , which focuses on delivering organic and locally grown fruits, vegetables, and other products to consumers, might be your answer. Consumers have little to no qualms about paying extra for organic foods as long as there's a perception that they're healthier and/or more nutritious. That ultimately means more money in Whole Foods' pockets.

6. Manage stress more effectively
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, which is why it's not entirely surprising to see stress management as the sixth most-common New Year's resolution.

There are a lot of ways to relieve stress, including taking a walk, playing a sport, or going for a drive, but I doubt many will surpass the gaming sector, which introduced two new gaming systems, the Xbox One from Microsoft and the PlayStation 4 from Sony, in the second-half of 2013. It's been six years since we've seen a major redesign of these gaming consoles and gaming represents the perfect alternate getaway for some consumers. I'd look for sales of these consoles to remain strong throughout 2014.

Source: Nikita2706, Wikimedia Commons.

7. Quit smoking
Few habits are harder to break than cigarette smoking, but quitting will have a more lasting and immediate positive effect on your health than just about anything. And that's why it's the seventh most common New Year's resolution.

Rather than betting on nicotine patch manufacturers, which offer only a short-lived revenue stream and constant turnover, I believe the smart investment here could be electronic cigarette manufacturers. Specifically, Lorillard (UNKNOWN: LO.DL  ) , which makes the Blu brand vapor cigarette, could see sales soar in 2014 and beyond. Through the first nine months of 2013, Blu had garnered 44% of the electronic cigarette market share with that number pushing to 49% in the third-quarter.

8. Improve a relationship
Keeping in touch with friends and family is a common New Year's resolution as we often lose touch with some of the people we care about. Thankfully, smartphones, tablets, and the Internet make it easier than ever to reconnect with those you've lost through the years.

I would consider betting on Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  )  to help refuel those lost connections. It's certainly not the most innovative or mind-blowing selection, but Facebook still has an incredible opportunity to add members in developing countries, as well as focus on mobile personalization within North America and Western Europe. As of the latest quarter Facebook had 1.19 billion monthly active users and this figure could top 2 billion, by my estimates, before 2017 is up. 

9. Stop procrastinating
I'm not personally one to make New Year's resolutions, but if there was one that is most applicable to me, it'd be to stop procrastinating.

Not to beat a dead horse, but to emphasize the importance of allowing compounding dividends and share price appreciation to work in your favor, I'd suggest the best way to counteract procrastination is by taking the time to invest in your retirement now. In addition to the Traditional and Roth IRAs, you should also ensure that you are taking advantage of any 401(k) matches your employer offers. An example from Bankrate notes that an individual making $40,000 a year that contributes up to 10% of his or her salary and receives a dollar-for-dollar match up to 6% with an annual investment return of 7% would be leaving $344,000 on the table if they didn't utilize that matching employer contribution! 

10. Set aside time for yourself
Last, but certainly not least, is the 10th most common New Year's resolution that states American's desire to get more "me time." Like No. 9 above, I can whole-heartedly agree with this one as "me time" is an important key to relaxation.

Perhaps nothing says relaxation like online travel service provider (Nasdaq: PCLN), which allows consumers to combine their flight, hotels, and car reservations into a discounted package. With most Americans unwilling to give up their vacation regardless of their economic situation, and Priceline pushing dominantly into Europe, it's a smart "me time" play.

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Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (5)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2013, at 8:24 AM, gazoo99 wrote:

    Contrave may have a new name

    but its ingredients and side effects are well known.

    It is a combination of two older drugs, Wellbutrin and Naltrexone.

    Wellbutrin is an antidepressant and Naltrexone is used for addictions.

    Both drugs, as a side effect, cause weight loss in patients. The drug is then recalled for deadly heart problems only after thousands suffered needlessly.

    Side Effects Associated With Wellbutin and Naltrexone: High blood pressure is one of the major side effects which give you a higher risk for heart attacks and stroke. This means your risk of death is increased dramatically. A stroke or heart attack if it does not kill you right off, often leaves you with permanent impaired compromised health or bed ridden.

    This is a life threatening side effect. Increased seizures in patients with no problems before were also experienced by patients in these clinical trials. Nausea, headaches, constipation, and increased pulse were more side effects commonly experienced by the patients.

    Is Contrave Worth The Side Effects? In the Contrave clinical trial, 40 percent of the patients dropped out because of the nasty side effects.

    According to clinical trial standards, the new drug is supposed to give greater than 5 percent success over the placebo group to be considered effective. The percentage was only 4.2 percent over the placebo group. It did pass the second criteria which was that patients should lose over 5 percent of their body weight, but at what cost to their heart?

    Weight loss with Contrave Is Not Long Term: The researchers also stated that they felt unless the patient stayed on the drug, the weight lost would be regained.

    So to keep the weight off, you must stay on Contrave, which is not proven to be safe but is proven to cause greater risk for heart problems and seizures.

    Somehow that does not seem like much progress toward a healthier life and increased longevity. You may lose weight, but only 4 to 9 percent, but increase your risk dramatically to die from heart related side effects. You may really want to rethink that decision...

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2013, at 2:39 PM, biogemfinder wrote:

    Another worthless plug for a combo of generic drugs with known toxicities.

    Where does MF find these hacks who know nothing about what they write? And he does not mention anything about Belviq from Arena and Qsymia from VVUS which have already been approved and are being marketed?

    There is still serious doubt as to whether Contrave from OREX will ever get approved from either the EU or the FDA. Even f it does, it will be with severe restrictions (REMS) much like qsymia from vvus.

    The only winner in this space will be ARNA and anyone who is reading this blog and countless other blogs that tout orex have to do their own dd based on the facts and sceince..otherwise you will be serving the HFS who are long in orex and short arna and vvus. Just reember that orex does not have nayhting approved and what it wants is approval from the FDA of Contrave which has a lot of safety issues including heart problems which it turns out to be -after the lengthy and expensive trial- it is worse than placebo but still under the threshold 2x margin. In other words, if 10 out of 1000 patients had heart issues in the placebo arm (this is for example only), of thousand patients taking Contrave anywhere from 10 to 20 people had heart problems. The company is not saying what the exact number is but it could very well be 18 or 19...for example!

  • Report this Comment On January 01, 2014, at 2:06 PM, rufustherat1 wrote:

    There are no major side effects of Contrave, which has Bupropion and Naltroxene ingredients. If anything Bupropion is overall cardioprotective. "For bupropion, the results suggested a direction of effect that was protective against major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) for the entire study population (RR=0.57; 95% CI 0.31-1.04)"

    Naltoxene infrequently is hepatotoxic which is reversible, but the dosage of Naltoxene used in 5-10 times less than the dosage that usually causes hepatoxicity. So liver toxicity and cardiac toxicity is really a moot issue with the combo, Contrave seems quite safe and causes 10% weight reduction, which is significant.

    The the Light Study as a major plus for Contrave, with the maximal saftey data of obesity drugs, it is a slam dunk for FDA and quite likely the only obesity drug with European approval.

  • Report this Comment On January 01, 2014, at 3:02 PM, marp11 wrote:

    so, lose weight for new years with a drug that isn't approved yet by the FDA and most likely never will be?

    yer trying too hard yer masters are about to be slaughtered.

    watch those BELVIQ TV ADS

    any second

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2014, at 10:42 AM, Oozhe wrote:

    Regardless of what one thinks of a) the likely overall market competitiveness of Contrave and b) whatever price action it does or doesn't have ahead of it, the tell-tale sign of biased analysis is gratuitous dismissal of Contrave's approval chances. Those chances are excellent - even as its chances of driving OREX' price into double digits are slim.

    (Clearly) unexamined comments about "serious doubt" and "most likely never will be" attached to Contrave's approval chances reflect competitor sympathizers' wishful thinking. Historic approval trends for very similar regulatory development, the current SPA in force with the FDA, and ad-com component members' current opinions on the safety issues attendant all militate strongly in favor of approval for Contrave - and that's one of the most discernible aspects of Contrave's profile.

    The pivotal pricing question is not approval or even adverse-event profiling, but rather just how much of the broader investing populace's imagination can be captured by the potential-sales argument. The armchair appraisals of safety issues by posters and blog pundits alike are unified by a naivete of the opinion-leader community's thorough and already-in-place understandings of the naltrexone and buproprion safety contexts. Unless the company is grossly distorting the interim results of the Light study, safety is no longer going to be even a pivotal issue for Contrave.

    The unassessed jury going forward is going to be the prescribers - and their pivotal focus is not going to be safety, efficacy or the risk/benefit profile, all of which they will largely grant (at first) until post-market evidence for each rolls in. They will first want to plumb the compliance hurdle and the new-option allure more than any other aspects. They will drive sales and they certainly don't care a whit about lay "pundit"s' handicapping of the safety and efficacy profiles - and after approval, price action will hinge preponderantly on evolving sales projections (where the unconsidered impact of both pre- and post-market medical education will impact heavily on the prescribers' behavior).

    The price will rise into approval after the usual mid-winter biotech bottom in advance of the spring conference season- and then disappoint for a while afterwards as a whole new set of dominant drivers rises.

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2014, at 11:19 AM, biogemfinder wrote:

    Big words and smooth talk only gets a pop of 4% on one day and may be even few days. Based on how VVUS and ARNA has performed prior to approval and after approval shows you what kind of daunting future lies ahead for Contrave..and yet the pumping and misinformation continues for this drug with as many or even more problems than Qsymia or Beviq! Yes it is likley get approved, but nothing with the FDA is to discount with 100% likelyhood of approval is not very wise. Further the hurdles of selling a generic combo with known toxicities with REMS have been well demonstrated with qsymia from VVUS. But yet this author sees no advantage of the already approved drugs in this group! Just touts orex...which is still 6 months from approval if everything goes well...

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2014, at 12:32 PM, Oozhe wrote:

    Well, at least in this article, this author made no argument of any substance for any therapy, even Contrave. But Motley Fool (Feuerstein excepted) and Seeking Alpha are largely poor on analytics of the obesity subsector.

    And I doubt my post (which, I assume, this comment references: "Big words and smooth talk only gets a pop of 4% on one day" - because you just couldn't have meant Williams or these other posters so far) had anything to do with today's price movement at OREX. I do agree that this subsector gets tons of misinformation and overly biased pumpery/bashing laid about it.

    I don't, however, "discount with a 100% likelihood of approval". The chances are excellent, not 100% at all - there's a lot of room in there. I'd say there's a 75%-85% chance of approval given what is known about the filing context.

    I also don't agree with the somewhat uncritical parallel of Qsymia's and Contave's side-effect profiles. They are QUITE different despite superficial similarities - and the REMS impact is greatest with (and in Contrave's case, obviated by) the prescribers' filtering of that profiling. The topiramate is just a qualitatively nastier concern and the opinion-leaders and prescribers are way out in front on this issue.

    One of the big mistakes lay 'analysis' makes is thinking it knows how the FDA and opinion-leaders consider and weight the safety data. The types of argument and number-crunching posters and pundits often try to make are nothing like what the regulatory MDs are making. Not even close - sorry, but I know: before retirement one of my main duties was bridging opinion-leader/prescriber and investor/layman understandings.

    Nal and Bup are really well-known entities and the residual questions about their safety, even in combo, will be quickly answered for the prescribers by what the FDA allows in the labeling/PI. If Takeda/OREX make even standard use of med-ed resources, most prescribers and/or conference attendees will have their minds satisfied before they see the first shipments. What will be left is gauging their individual patients' receptivity.

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