Every year people start making New Year’s resolutions. Many of those new goals involve improving your personal finances. Sadly, like many New Year’s resolutions, these money goals often fail.
Whether an unexpected emergency pops up or you just get sick of working so hard toward a goal that seems miles away, people get discouraged and quit. But thankfully, there are a few easy ideas that can help you to achieve your financial New Year’s resolutions.
1. Break Resolutions Into Sub-Goals
Huge goals — like paying off $12,000's worth of debt — can be overwhelming. But what about paying off $1,000's worth of debt each month?
If you can break down your financial New Year's resolutions into smaller sub-goals, you’ll have a much better chance of completing them.
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It’s harder to push off a goal with a shorter timeline. Plus, if something happens and you fail to meet your $1,000 debt-payoff goal, you can start over again without feeling like you’re a complete failure. You still have 11 more goals you can meet.
When my wife and I were paying down her $80,000 of student loan debt, we often made monthly goals for how much debt we wanted to pay off.
2. Make Your Financial Resolutions Visible
Making your goals visible is the best way to make sure that they stay on top of your to-do list. For example, you can put your goal on your phone wallpaper, your computer desktop, or even on your homepage. Better yet, if you want to remember your goals first thing in the morning, use a dry-erase marker on your bathroom mirror!
Keeping your goals visible will ensure that you never forget what you’re working toward.
3. Get an Accountability Partner
Sharing your financial New Year’s resolutions with the world will help ensure that you’re committed. I know that when I tell others I’m going to do something, I do my best to get it done. After all, I don’t want to be seen as a flake.
This was another tool that my wife and I employed while paying off her debt. We gave monthly debt payoff updates on my blog to show our progress. You can post your goals on Facebook or tell your friends and family directly.
If your goal is too personal to tell the world, pick someone you know you can trust. Ask them to check in with you regularly to make sure you’re making progress.
4. Penalize Yourself If You Fail
If you fail to reach a goal, you do not pass “go” and you do not collect $200. Seriously, penalties can be a huge incentive. When it comes to meeting financial New Year's resolutions, a great way to accomplish this is to force yourself to donate a set amount of money to a cause you detest if you fail to meet your goal.
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If you achieve your goal, you get to keep your money and do whatever you want with it. But if you fail, the cause you hate will get more money to achieve its goals instead.
5. Reward Yourself
The key here is to make sure that your reward isn’t counterproductive. If your goal was to pay off your car loan, then rewarding yourself with a new car — along with a new car loan — doesn’t make sense. Instead, treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant.
6. Get Started
If you’re ready to get your finances under control, here are two goals to get you started pronto.
Goal One: Track all of your expenses for a year, if possible.
Kick-Start It: Hook up all of your financial accounts to personal finance software like Personal Capital, Trim, or Betterment.
Plus, enter to win a PocketSmith Super subscription worth $169.95. All you need to do is join PocketSmith on Facebook or Twitter and pick one spending habit you would like to change in 2019 and tweet or Facebook your #SmallChangeBigGains to them.
Goal Two: Pay off a set amount of debt.
Kick-Start It: Sell unused items on eBay or DeCluttr and use the money for your first extra payment.
Final Thoughts on Meeting Financial New Year’s Resolutions
Reaching any goal — especially a financial resolution — can be a major challenge. Why would anyone want to make achieving that goal harder than it has to be? Instead, implement at least a couple of the tips above, and you’ll have a much better shot at having your financial resolution stick.
Additional reporting by Kelly Meehan Brown.