I have never claimed to be one of those people who “doesn’t really watch that much television.” Admittedly, it is mostly news. I try to watch some CNN, FOX News and MSNBC every day, in order to be an informed citizen and to be able to form my own opinions, but I also have my favorite programs. That being said, I feel that this January I have been even more bombarded than ever with weight loss, gym specials and exercise equipment commercials.

As we have discussed, these industries are growing, and research indicates they know that January, after the holidays, is the best time to push their products, BUT REALLY!

To me the keys to all of that weight loss and getting in shape are simple — “commitment and accountability.” It is like budgeting. It first takes commitment, and then it takes accountability, either to yourself, or perhaps to another person. I think that sticking to a budget would be much easier for many people if they just had a “Budget Buddy.” If it is a family budget, going over it frequently with the whole family to see how everyone is doing would do the trick. If it is a personal budget, perhaps you could go over it with an understanding friend or family member, and, yes, there are those budget apps that can work for some people. If you are really disciplined, just going over your budget and proactively working it could be enough, especially if you keep some written notes on your success or the things that you have to work on.

Back to exercise, burning calories and getting in shape. If you ignore the socialization aspects of gyms and classes, and perhaps the accountability aspect of having a personal trainer, even after you have learned all of the routines and techniques, it would seem that the most economical approach would be to get outside and do all of that free walking and running. Then, you could invest in some low-impact but good calorie burning equipment, like cross-country skis, snow shoes, a decent bike and/or a kayak. They will last for a long time and you won’t have a reoccurring expense to use them. After that, how about a piece or two of home exercise equipment and some free weights, which you could probably pick up at a garage sale. By the way,  Men’s Health, Business Insider, Livestrong.com, and others rate a rowing machine — yes, a rowing machine that you always see sitting alone in the corner of the gym —as the best calorie burner. That of course assumes the same level of intensity for each machine.

Now all you need is some commitment, some goals and some accountability. For me, I keep track of all of my exercise in my daily calendar. It doesn’t cost anything, makes me accountable to myself every day, and is my own no cost Fitbit. If that doesn’t work for you, how about finding an understanding human “exercise buddy” that you review your weekly exercise and weight loss activities with? That is accountability.

On a totally different subject, I want to return to “Cash is King” for a moment. I recently had a teacher ask me, if cash is king and you use it all the time, what do you do with all of that change? I couldn’t tell if they were being tongue in cheek, giving me the business, or were serious, but I dove right in. I explained that I have a change container that I keep handy in my car. When I am headed into a store or a place where I will be buying something, I take out a mixture of coins and put them in my pocket, so that I can have the right change for a purchase, or minimize the change I will get back. When I return to the car, I put any change back in the container. Periodically, when I accumulate excess change, I deposit it into the account at my credit union which is tied into my ATM card that I use to get my weekly cash (yes they run it through a machine – if they didn’t, I wouldn’t bank there). Kind of like the cash circle of life.

In the next column I want to look at those increasing lines at the fast food drive-up windows, more ideas from the book “Dollars and Sense,” and a few things from an older book by Mary Hunt titled “Debt-Proof Living.” Here are a few of my favorite quotes from that book. “Don’t let your children be future debtors”; “Debt is hazardous to your wealth”; and “Save your raise.”

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo