New Year’s resolutions: Roughly 40% of people make them each year, and of those who make them, just 40% are successful at keeping them 6 months into the year. There are many reasons why a New Year’s resolution might not succeed: Maybe the goal is set too high (hello “I’m going to lose 20 lbs in January”) or perhaps the goal is expensive, making it difficult to achieve. Do you want to make meaningful resolutions this year that last?
Perhaps the smartest New Year’s Resolutions are are the ones that help you save money and improve your financial situation. They may not be easy to stick to, but they’ll make a big difference in your financial picture. Whether you’re dealing with debt that you want to get rid of, or you simply want to increase savings, make a plan for a New Year’s resolutions that will succeed.
In the excitement of the New Year, it’s very easy to get into a resolution frenzy. You might resolve to lose 20 pounds, pay off $20,000 in debt, and get your emergency fund squared away while saving for your dream vacation and the purchase of a new home. While all of those are great resolutions, if you try to do all of them at once, you might set yourself up for failure.
Instead, choose the one new year’s resolution that will provide you with the most immediate financial benefit and focus on that one. For instance, if you currently have high-interest debt, resolving to pay it off might be the best choice before tackling other goals.
Once you’ve decided on a resolution, it’s best to make a realistic plan for action. It’s easy to say “I’ll pay off $20,000 in debt this year,” but it’s more challenging to have an actual goal of how you’ll do it. Working with a non-profit credit counselor can help you put together a plan for success. For example, the counselor can help you establish a budget, recommend the debts to focus on first, or recommend a debt management plan if that’s the best option for you.
Breaking your resolution up into bite-sized, incremental goals can help you achieve it and can help make it more affordable. In the case of paying off debt, you might decide to pay off a high-interest rate credit card during the first half of the year and can decide on a monthly payment that will help you reach that goal. Instead of looking at paying off a big sum, such as $2,000, you can look at a smaller monthly number, such as $400.
Once you have a concrete and realistic plan for your New Year’s resolutions in place, the next challenge is sticking to it. Putting your goals on autopilot can help you stay on track without having to even think about it.
In the case of paying off debt or saving money, the easiest way to automate your goals is to set up automatic payments or transfers to savings. That way, you won’t have to worry about forgetting to make a payment each month. With savings goals, you’re less likely to skip a month of savings if you never see the money to begin with.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to sticking to New Year’s resolutions is to take things one step at a time. You might want that debt paid off now or that weight to fall off right away, it takes time. You will get frustrated and disappointed if you have unrealistic expectations about how quickly you can change your situation.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.
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Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
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