Many of us have set New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, both physically and financially. But getting in shape doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some tips and tricks to help you trim expenses while you slim your waistline.

Free Online Food Diaries
Many of the major weight loss programs are offering New Year’s “savings” in order to attract new customers. For example, Weight Watchers is currently waiving its registration fee and offering a 20% discount for both the online and in-person programs. The only qualification is that you have to pre-pay for three months to get the online discount, and five months to get the in-person discount. However, if your membership is already paid for, it does eliminate an excuse not to actively participate in the program.

If $10 a week isn’t in your budget, though, you can use free online food diaries to track what you eat. The Lose It app for the iPhone uses a similar tracking paradigm as Weight Watchers. You can look up foods to find out the calories, carbs, and fat, and you also get credit for physical activity. Sex even counts towards your fitness plan, so how bad could it be? One of the nice things about the iPhone app is that when you track calories, it just looks like you’re checking e-mail or texting.

If you don’t have an iPhone, there are web-based food diaries that you can use, such as (which is free). If you need help researching the nutrition information of food, including common items from restaurants, try the Nutrition Data page at

Sign Up for Deal Alerts
You can sign up for online programs, such as Groupon, which delivers savings alerts directly to your inbox, or visit SlickDeals.Net to find online coupon and discount codes. Both of these services run the gamut, so they’re great for all types of deals.

Cook at Home, and Pack a Lunch
This is just good budgeting advice for everyone, but it’s especially true for those of us who are minding our waistlines. When you cook at home, you know exactly what you’re eating, you determine how the food is prepared, and you have control over portion sizes. Check out the Stretch Your Food Dollar category for cheap and easy recipes – and come back often for new additions.

Cooking at home includes packing your own lunch to take to work. It’s a great way to utilize leftovers. And it’s a good way to save an average of $10 a day. There are some fun lunchtime recipes in the Stretch Your Food Dollar archive. At the very least, even a frozen dinner, like the Weight Watchers Smart Ones, can help you stay on track. Keep an eye out for sales at the supermarket to get the best deal. And don’t forget that Target can often be a great place to pick up Smart Ones – they often have them on sale for $2 each.

Tomorrow I’ll go more in depth about the pros and cons of different weight loss programs, such as the new HCG trend, to help you determine if these are a good financial investment for you. In the mean time, feel free to share your money-saving weight loss tips and tricks in the comments section.