Every New Year, millions of Americans resolve to become healthier (exercise more, lose weight, etc.) and wealthier (increase savings, reduce debt, etc.) Many of us are looking for a way to do both — live healthy lives and also achieve financial security. Almost everyone can do something to improve their health and finances, and both can be improved by small, intentional steps.

Cottonwood Extension District FCS Agents Donna Krug and Linda Beech will team up to offer Small Steps to Health and Wealth in Hays and Great Bend this month. The two-part class will explore proven behavioral strategies that can help to improve health and build finances, one step at a time. Join us on these dates and locations:

• Hays — 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 16 and 30, Extension meeting room, 601 Main.

• Great Bend — Noon to 1 p.m. Jan. 17 and Feb. 1, Great Bend Recreation Activity Center, 2715 18th St.

There is no charge for the Small Steps to Health and Wealth class, so register soon by calling the Cottonwood Extension District Hays office, (785) 628-9430, or Great Bend office (620) 793-1910.

Did you make resolutions for health or wealth this year? Here are a few tips to help you be more successful as you work toward your health and wealth goals.

Make your resolutions S-M-A-R-T:

• Specific: Make your resolutions very specific. For instance, saying you'd like to save some money each month is too general. However, saying you plan to put aside $50 from your paycheck in January, February and March is very specific.

• Measurable: Thinking in terms of numbers can be measured and tracked. Perhaps you'd like to eat healthier and get more exercise. Thinking in numbers, you might decide to eat salad for lunch three days a week and walk for 30 minutes five days a week.

• Attainable: You certainly can make challenging resolutions, but don't make them so difficult that they will be almost impossible to achieve. You always can break your resolution down into smaller goals. For example, it might not be possible to save $500 from one paycheck. Instead, resolve to set aside $10 a week for 50 weeks to reach your $500 savings goal. Likewise, it might not be possible to lose 25 pounds in a month. Instead, make changes in diet and exercise to lose at a more healthy rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week.

• Realistic: You might decide you want to run a marathon this spring, but if you haven't ever been a runner, this resolution might be unrealistic. Instead, plan more realistic steps, such as gradually beginning an exercise program with the goal of running a half-marathon next year.

• Timely: People often wish for things they'd like to accomplish ... someday. The word “someday” is indefinite. Resolutions with no start or end date never get accomplished. Be sure all of your goals have a deadline and a starting date.

Join the agents of the Cottonwood Extension District as we take small steps to health and wealth in Hays and Great Bend. No step is too small to get started, and you can never be too early or too late.

Linda K. Beech is Cottonwood District Extension agent for family and consumer sciences.