A new year begins and with it, the chance to make significant changes in our lives. While some of us may focus resolutions on living a healthier lifestyle by balancing work life and family life or by losing weight, let us not forget the importance of establishing financial resolutions.
Financial resolutions begin with a desire to make a change in our lives because we feel a need. Perhaps it’s a need to pay more attention to our spending, to have a savings safety net, to plan for our children’s education, or retirement or simply a need to reduce the financial stress in our lives.
Too often people make financial resolutions that fall short in the long term. Without a plan, a resolution may end up being a wish.
With a little effort, you can make your financial goals a reality.
Here are a few tips to help you with your journey:
Set A Realistic Goal
A resolution like “save more” or “pay off debt” is too broad and likely unattainable. If your goal is to save, then qualify it and quantify it. For example, “by December 31, 2018, I want to have $3,000 in my savings account. I will set up an automatic deduction of $115 from my bank account each pay date to reach my goal”. This goal sets a benchmark and allows you to work towards a specific goal. It also allows you to check your progress throughout the year.
If you plan is to pay off debt, consider what you are willing to go without in order to obtain your goal. Avoid your habit of a morning coffee and use the savings to pay down debt. A small sacrifice can go a long way in reaching your goal.
Write It Down
Savings for a trip down South or to buy something that really matters to you like a home or car? Visual cues prompt your brain to remember what matters to you. You will be less distracted from the goal you set. Set your goal as a screen saver on your phone/desktop or post it on your refrigerator so you see it often and visualize it.
Spread The News
You are more likely to achieve your financial resolution if you have the support of those around you. Share it with others. If your resolution is to pay off debt, tell family members or friends They may need to be a part of your plan and their understanding and support will be critical to keeping you on track. Don’t be embarrassed and do not let others sway you from your goal. After all, it is your resolution and no one else’s.
Stay Strong for Long
It’s easy to stay focused on day one. It’s the following 364 that are difficult! Get into a daily/weekly/monthly routine and stick to it. If your goal is to “pay more attention to where my money goes,” consider keeping a daily money journal or use an app to report each transaction. Given time, this habit will be embedded into your brain. As we are creatures of habit, creating new good habits is easy if we try.
Fall Down & Get Back Up
There may be times in the year due to a series of unfortunate events when your financial resolution can’t be met. There may also be times when you slip up and spent money where you shouldn’t have. You are only human. Self-forgive and move on. Get back on track immediately. Don’t let too much time pass or it will be too difficult to start again as you will lose motivation.
Re-evaulate & Adjust
From time to time your original plan may have to be adjusted. Income changes, job loss, seasonal income as well as marital changes can cause havoc on your financial goal. Don’t ignore the need to evaluate your financial goals when these changes occur and if necessary seek advice from professionals when you feel overwhelmed.
Finally, remind yourself of all the things you’ve done right over the years and what you could do better this year. After all, success is just a series of daily steps towards a financially brighter you.