For many, holiday eating leads to New Year's resolutions to reduce consumption and work out.

For some, the decision is life-changing. For many, it was back to pizza and beer on Super Bowl Sunday.

For most of us, however, losing a few pounds may not be as important as improving our financial situation: paying bills down or off, or saving money for emergencies or a down payment on a house.

Real estate agents say that, for first-time buyers, especially, the biggest obstacle to purchasing a home is not having enough money for down payments, closing costs, even monthly payments.

"Many of them do not have the typical 20 percent-down money, and in many cases interest rates may be the difference between renting and buying," said Frank Dolski, a Coldwell Banker Hearthside agent in Lahaska.

As Robert Acuff, of Re/Max Services in Blue Bell, noted, "The percentage of first-time home buyers in the market was very low in 2014, holding back the overall housing market."

Based on the results of a survey by mortgage website, 2015 may be another year when Americans don't get their finances in order.

Its poll of 1,905 American adults, conducted by Op4G, showed that last year 40 percent of consumers responding chose not to refinance or prepay their mortgages, pay off credit-card debt, improve their credit scores, or save more for retirement than they did in the previous calendar year. vice president Keith Gumbinger said it was "a shame that more homeowners don't make any efforts to trim their mortgage costs."

Even prepaying a small additional amount each month can save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan, Gumbinger said.

Although consumers were presented with some of the lowest mortgage rates seen in years, just 15 percent of respondents chose to refinance their homes to take advantage, he said. Just 3 percent said they had prepaid their mortgages in 2014, despite "a rebounding domestic economy."

A recent TD Bank survey found that only 31 percent of Philadelphia-area residents are satisfied with their current financial health. Just 36 percent of Philadelphians who set financial goals for 2015 said they have begun working on their resolutions and are making progress.

And the TD Bank survey of 1,444 people found that 51 percent of Philadelphians are confident they will achieve their financial goals for 2015, compared with 62 percent of Americans in general.

Of course, the domestic economy did not rebound for everyone. The fact that I paid $1.81 in January for a gallon of gasoline meant oil companies began laying off refinery workers.

Health-care costs are expected to grow 6.8 percent overall in 2015, says a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute. And called "weak wages" the "undertow in the job market" in an October article.

Lack of extra income to save or pay down debt was not mentioned in an article about the survey by Marcie Geffner published on

One reason people don't act is "analysis paralysis," said P.J. Wallin, of Atlas Financial, a financial planning firm in Richmond, Va.

"Some people are perfectionists," Wallin said. "It's hard for them to get started."

If true, that seems to apply to all resolutions, including those made by earnest folks struggling with the elliptical the gym. They look at all the regulars not even working up a sweat and say, "I'll never be able to do that."

Yes, you can. Just give it another day, or even two.

215-854-2472 @alheavens