New Year’s resolutions are a great way to set out your short- and long-term financial goals. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to start working on a new you – whether that means upping your fitness game, learning a new hobby, or finally making the travel plan you’ve always dreamed of. Unfortunately, most resolutions are broken by winter’s end, in spite of all our efforts and best intentions. But that doesn’t have to be the case! With a few simple financial tips, you can make the right resolutions and enjoy a richer 2019.
Build a Budget
Most New Year’s resolutions cost money to achieve; whether you’re taking Spanish classes or paying for a gym membership. Don’t let money deter you from achieving your goals – but do sit down and work out your expenses for the year against what you earn. By figuring out where and how you’re spending your money you’ll be able to find any extra cash you can put towards your resolutions. And if eliminating wasteful spending is one of your resolutions, then you’ve already taken the first step!
Prioritize Your Debt
Eliminating debt and reducing interest payments should be amongst your top New Year’s resolutions, as this will free you up to accomplish all the rest. Here’s a financial tip: work towards getting rid of your highest interest debt first. Pay more than the minimum whenever possible. It won’t feel like you’re making much progress at first, but keep at it and you’ll soon start to see results.
Set Specific, Realistic Goals…
Resolutions falter for many reasons, but setting achievable goals can make a big difference. You don’t want to go overboard and attempt to achieve too much, too soon. For example, “Take a dream vacation to Hawaii this year” isn’t a great resolution by itself, because it’s too general and therefore hard to work towards. Break it into smaller goals that you can check off – research vacation costs, start a savings account specifically for your vacation, and track ticket prices to decide when to purchase are all great sub-goals that will help you keep your larger resolution on track.
…But Don’t Be Afraid to Think Long-Term
While it’s important to be realistic, there’s nothing wrong with setting financial goals that are more long-term. If you’re struggling to pay back student loans for example, you might make this year’s resolution about paying off a small chunk of the debt, while the overall resolution is to have the debt paid off by a certain date in the future. Get out a calculator and plan for what you can reasonably accomplish this year – and don’t forget to give yourself credit for the small accomplishments that build up into something great!
Start Saving, and Make Tough Choices
If saving is already one of your goals, congrats! Whether it’s for retirement, emergency funds, your dream vacation or a general rainy day fund, you’ll be doing your future self a favor. One key way to achieve this financial resolution is to start making tough choices. Do you really need that shiny new smartphone model, or would it be more prudent to save up toward a longer-term goal like buying a house? Be empowered by your choice to save rather than spend, and remind yourself of what you’ll be able to do by resisting the urge to buy, buy, buy.
Make a Physical List
As you follow these financial tips, you might want a tangible reminder of what you’re working towards, as well as a visual measure of your progress. Organize your list of New Year’s resolutions into daily, weekly and monthly sections. Every morning you can take a look at your goals, and every evening you can cross off what you’ve achieved. For example, if you’re looking to save money by not eating out so much, you might make “bring lunch from home” a daily resolution, while “learn to cook a new kind of cuisine” would be a great monthly resolution. If you don’t quite meet your achievements, don’t fret too much – just make up for them whenever possible to stay on track.
With some smart planning, goal setting and saving, you’ll set yourself and your financial resolutions up for a successful 2019. Happy New Year!