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"I am going to save enough money for a down payment this year!"

"In 2017, I will eliminate my credit card debt!"

"I'm determined to not be stressed about my budget!"

As we approach the new year, it is everyone's intention to make New Year's resolutions. The above quoted lines are common financial goals you may be considering. Unfortunately, only about 8% of New Year’s resolutions are actually carried through.

Why is this?

Often we look at the end goal but don't develop a plan to get there. Look at it from the perspective of another common resolution: I will lose 20 lbs. this year. Many people discontinue this resolution after a couple of weeks because they throw themselves in a gym, do everything they possibly can, find their workout regimen is exhausting, only see minimal results, and find that life is better with a box of chocolates.

Most people only look at the end goal for motivation, such as losing 20 lbs. or getting rid of debt. It is easier to set smaller goals that you can achieve in a shorter period of time. These smaller steps will build and keep you motivated toward your end goal. 

Let’s look a 3 common financial resolutions people promise themselves and some plans with smaller goals to help get you there.

1. Save Money (aka The “I want to buy ____” goal.)

Sometime the things we want come at a hefty price, such as buying a home, a car, an engagement ring, etc. One way to start saving money now is to look at your budget and make realistic cuts or savings.

  • Pick a budget category - Look honestly at your budget. Decide a category to reduce your spending. Start with one and in another month or two, reevaluate with another category. 
  • Personal example - My roommate and I wanted to save money and thought the best category to make cuts was through our rent. We searched for a couple months and found a new apartment, just as nice as our old one with similar square footage, for $400/month less! Imagine where that $400 can go!
  • Here are other ways to make simple cuts to the budget.

2. Paying off Debt (aka The “I have too many Credit Cards” goal.)

Whether credit cards, student loans, a mortgage, almost everyone has debt at some point in their life. Without debt, you will be more free with your finances. Here are some tips to think about to get you started:

  • Do you have a budget? – Start here when needing to pay off debt. A budget allows you to know what payments you NEED to pay every month and how much is left over. Allocate a certain amount of the left over to tackle debt quicker. 
  • Set up an emergency fund – Second step? Create an emergency fund so you to use this money instead of credit cards for unexpected expenses.
  • Read more helpful tips to get out of debt here.

3. Organize your Budget (aka The “I’m spending too much on Starbucks every month” goal.)

For some of us, organizing a budget is easy. For others, organizing a budget can be a tall order. What are some steps to get you to this goal?

  • Set up automated payments – Required bill payments will automatically be paid every month. A missed payment can add stress.
  • Set up the Envelope System – This is a good way to organize your budget which also rewards yourself, such as allowing for Starbucks runs. Read how to set one up here.
  • Set up an emergency fund – You don’t know what is going to happen in life. It’s good to set yourself up for an emergency fund in case the unexpected happens that affects your budget. Read how to set one up here.

The main point of this article is to encourage you to think about your New Year’s resolutions differently. Instead of just looking at the broad end goal, take some time and develop a plan on how to get there. This way, the resolution is centered around your actions and not just a goal.

Read other thoughts on how to build an effective resolution from US News.  Good luck with your New Year's resolutions and have a wonderful 2017!

Further Reading:

How to Build an Effective Financial New Year's Resolution 

Five Financial Goals for the New Year 

30 Ways to Cut Your Monthly Expenses 

Quick Guide to Your Emergency Fund 

Envelope System Explained 

What Can I Do to Get Out of Debt 

Posted 11:00 AM

Tags: money
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