Between eating and shopping, the end of 2006 is sure to leave a few of us with expanded waistlines and slimmer wallets. Fortunately, New Year’s resolutions can help counter our not-so-great decisions and give us a fresh start in 2007. At least, that’s the idea.

The tradition of New Year’s resolutions dates back to early Rome circa 153 B.C. According to research conducted at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, some 45 percent of Americans make one or more resolutions a year, and while not everyone keeps them, the people who explicitly make them are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who do not resolve to do anything.

“I have goals and ambitions,” Forest Park resident Jodi Gianakopoulos said. “I’ve known all year long what I need to do. My agenda involves my home, family, and business.”

Jodi and her husband Peter Gianakopoulos own Old School Records on Madison Street and said they are among the majority of Americans who will probably not make a New Year’s resolution. The couple said they do set priorities, just not by the calendar.

“I don’t set New Year’s resolutions,” Peter Gianakopoulos said. “It’s okay to have goals. It’s good to put a time frame on things. You don’t need a new year to get you going.”

Resolutions are often health-based, the most popular of which include weight loss and kicking a nicotine habit. Finances are also high on the list.

For those working toward a specific goal, there are resources to help along the way. Fitness centers, such as Evolution Fitness on Madison Street, offer holiday specials and promotional packages. While those deals might entice new comers to the gym, Evolution Fitness Manager Diane Ussell said the motivation often subsides just as quickly as it comes.

Just a couple months into 2007, Ussell said it’s likely she’ll never see the 15 or 20 new members typically motivated by the beginning of a new year.

“The first two months are gung-ho,” Ussell said. “After that it drops off.”

Of course, turning over a new leaf doesn’t have to be a life changing decision either. Freshmen Brianna Pusavc, Meghan Dowdle, and Jessica Dyleski of the Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy in Forest Park all resolved to keep their rooms clean, minimize their cell phone usage, and stop eating junk food.

For those of us nursing an empty wallet, financial advisors are available to help set things right.

Cathy Pruger, vice president of retail banking at the Forest Park National Bank and Trust Company, said the bank can assist families and small businesses throughout the year.

“Looking at 2007, we want the opportunity to educate our consumers on financial matters,” Pruger said. “We’re looking to have an in-house seminar, and come tax time, we want to offer a shredding service so that people don’t have important documents lying around the house.”

Pruger also said that by increasing their use of technology, the bank will focus on things that make life a little easier, like online banking.

As for her own New Year’s resolution, Pruger wants to spend more time with her family.

“It’s something you get away from,” Pruger said. “Reflecting upon this past year made me realize I need to focus more time on my family.”