With New Year’s glitter and hangovers starting to wear off, the promise of a fresh start beckons—leading many of us to look for ways to improve our lives in the coming year (and give a big ol’ “BYE FELICIA” to 2016). While some turn to self-improvement—a.k.a. “This year I’m going to ___ [gossip less/meditate for 20 minutes every day/eat a raw-food diet/just say ‘no’ to that extra glass (or three) of wine”]—others aspire to make more time for family and friends. We also see people try to get a better handle on their lives financially. If your New Year’s resolution has to do with money, you’re not alone: according to the number crunchers at Nielsen, 25% of Americans resolved to get a better handle on their finances going into 2015.
And just how many of those brave resolvers stuck to their plans? Researchers found that a measly 8% of those who made a resolution actually accomplished their goal. One psychologist says the reason why so few people succeed is because they try to overdo it out-of-the-gate. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that it can be difficult to introduce big changes into our lives—and this is no less true for money than it is for any other tricky aspect of personal well-being.
So, what should you do if you want to be part of the 8% who actually succeed? Here are some tips:
Set concrete goals
It’s January 1st, and you’re ready to start the year off right. Your goal is to spend less money. Great! But isn’t promising to simply “spend less” a little too general? Instead, why not make it a goal to limit a certain area of your spending? For example, if you’re a serious foodie who has to try all the hip new restaurants in Denver, maybe scale back and replace some of your nights out on the town with gourmet nights in. Whether you try a new recipe or reignite a passion for an old one, make it special by cooking for your BF/GF/Tinder hookup (this should get you some major bonus points). The most important part is to remember that it’s a lot easier to actually save when you have a tangible goal you’re working toward (rather than a vague one).
Make your goals realistic
Having a concrete goal is a good start, but be wary of aiming too high. Yes, it’s wonderful that you think you can cut your Whole Foods grocery bill to $50 a week, but…come on. If you resolve to, say, cut your typical $125/week grocery bill by 25%, you’ll still be saving about $30 every week, which is $120 per month, or more than $1,400 over the course of a year. That’s some real dough! Plus, when you achieve realistic goals, it does wonders for your motivation to make (and achieve) even greater ones.
Create an accountability system
One of the best ways to stick with a major change is to hold yourself accountable. Of course, that’s much easier said than done. Fortunately, self-accountability has never been easier than it is now. From self-help apps like Unstuck, to money-management ones like Mint and Mvelopes, your cell can be one of your best motivators around (as long as you avoid other distractions). The other way to create accountability systems is through family and friends. Talk to the people in your life about your goals, and make sure they know you want them to help you achieve them. Remember: there will come a time when the once-great-sounding idea of a gentle nudge from a friend or loved one to keep you on track will feel…not great. When that happens (and it will), just remember it comes from a place of love—#blessed.
How do you create and achieve your financial goals? Do you have any financial resolutions for 2017? Let us know!