Last year, nearly one-third of Americans made New Year’s resolutions, with half reporting that they want to save more, according to the New Year Financial Resolutions study from Fidelity. You may be one of the many who created a financial resolution – but will you stick to it?
The key to success when it comes to your financial resolution is to take a realistic approach and focus on consistency rather than perfection. Typical resolutions involve beating yourself up over all of the mishaps like missing a day or two at the gym or cheating on a diet, but if you take small steps and adopt realistic, long-term behavioral changes, it becomes much easier to stick to your plan.
If you have big financial dreams for the year, you should break them up into mini-goals. Start small and move bigger as you get more and more comfortable. Try focusing on one financial goal at a time, like paying off credit card debt.
Another thing that can help you accomplish your New Year’s financial resolutions is to track your progress. Because what’s the point of resolutions if you can’t see where you started and how you are progressing? It also can help to have some personal accountability. Although talking about money is typically viewed as taboo, it can be helpful to discuss your financial goals with your friends or family.
One of the benefits of living in an age of technology is that it’s easy for us to automate a lot of our life expenses, thereby keeping ourselves on track to financial success. Bill paying, saving and investing have become so much simpler these days as banks, credit card issuers, investment companies and retirement plan providers have made automation an option. On that note, if one of your goals is to save more money, a smart idea is to have your savings automatically withdrawn from your paycheck and deposited into a separate savings account.
If you find your finances do get off track, don’t worry. The reality is that you will likely have a moment of weakness, no matter how determined you are. Think of the times and situations that you could see yourself slipping up, and come up with a plan for how you will not let those moments completely derail you from reaching your financial goals. If you are someone who is easily tempted to spend more at the mall, grocery store or restaurant and often leave those places wondering how you spent so much, you may want to use cash instead – eliminate the temptation for yourself.
At first, these small actions won’t feel natural and may even be uncomfortable, but they could save you big in the long run.
At American Financial Investments, LLC, we are determined to help clients create a plan that will work for their unique situation, and can provide you with the understanding you need to feel confident and closer to your dreams. QCBN
By Ronald Stevenson and Barbara Clark Stevenson