The new year is a great time to make resolutions of any kind and if you’re planning a financial goal like getting out of debt, saving money, or building your portfolio, then you need a strategy to make them happen. The expert finance bloggers suggested that while they love financial goals, most people eventually fail them because they don’t set goals that are specific enough, or the process of ego depletion means that they run out of willpower well in advance of achieving their resolutions. If you want to make sure you stick to your resolutions and meet your goals, these tips from top finance bloggers will get you started.
Pick One or Two Financial Resolutions
We’ve all been there, ready to start the new year out with dozens of life changes, and we most often get off to a pretty good start. But, by the time the new year rolls around again, we’re most often back to our old habits and old ways, and not much has changed at all. That’s why almost all of the bloggers and one key bit of advice. Pick one or two major resolutions, and leave the rest for next year.
Gretchen Lindow – Retired by 40 Blog: “I love financial New Year’s resolutions, but long-term goals can be really hard to achieve. Just like the most common New Year’s Resolution, weight loss, burn-out usually happens a month or two in. We combat this by breaking the big yearly goal into 12 smaller, monthly goals.”
Lazy Man and Money: “If you decide to make a financial new year’s resolution, start with just one. Implementing too much at once is a sure way to fail.”
Laurie – The Frugal Farmer: “Pick one powerful financial goal and outline the necessary steps to make it happen.”
John & David – Debt Free Guys: “Start smaller and increase your chances of long-term success. Don’t start big and increase your chances of short-term success with long-term failures.”
Miranda Marquit – Planting Money Seeds: “Rather than making a lot of resolutions, I like to choose one major financial goal that I can work on all year. I decide the most important thing in my financial life, whether it’s getting ready to sell my home (my goal two years ago), increasing my retirement account contributions to a certain level or saving up for a specific trip. I can break this big goal down into smaller chunks and work on it all year. At the end of the year, I’ve moved forward overall, and I’m ready to start on something new. In some cases, the goal is big enough to last two years.”
This powerful advice offered by almost all of the bloggers is also backed by multiple studies showing that willpower is an exhaustible resource. Choosing too many goals will exhaust your willpower, and you’ll end up failing on all of them. The same goes for setting large goals. If you trip up once on a large goal, you’ll feel like you’ve failed entirely and will be less motivated to keep going, whereas if you set monthly goals for your resolution, slipping up is just a failure for that month.
Create Actionable and Trackable Goals
The bloggers also had another bit of important science backed financial advice. Creating actionable, trackable goals. After all, it’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know what you’ve done.
Lazy Man and Money: “My financial New Year’s resolution is that I’d ask people to track their net worth. I don’t think many people do it and it has a huge impact on your fiscal status.”
Kalen Bruce – Moneyminiblog.com: “The most important resolution you can make for your finances is to start a budget, because the first step is knowing where your money is going.”
Laurie – The Frugal Farmer: “Sit down and make a list of your financial dreams. Then get a financial game plan to make those dreams happen and make a commitment to stick to it.”
Brian – Debt Discipline: “Have a plan for your money in the form of a budget and stop using credit cards are the best things you can do to get you finances fit in the New Year. Preventing a big Holiday hangover and not going into a big amount of debt to finance your Holidays will also make it easier to get started in the New Year.”
Gary Dek – Gajizmo: “Beyond the basics of frugality, the most important lifelong resolutions or commitments to execute on include the following: (a) increase your income whether that means pushing for a raise from your existing employer or getting a better job offer from another company, (b) develop a side hustle, such as offering freelance services, making a blog, selling on Amazon, etc., (c) start early, allocate a significant portion of your income to investing and use a robo-advisor if you need to, and finally (d) educate yourself and never stop reading, researching and learning to avoid mistakes and make the right financial choices.”
Andrew Schrage – Money Crashers: “You must put some time and effort into creating your New Year’s financial resolutions in order for them to be effective. It’s not enough to just say “I want to start saving more for retirement.” The goals must be specific, time bound, and achievable. For example, if you’re $20,000 behind on your retirement savings goal, you’re probably not going to catch up in just one year. Instead, make your goal something along the lines of that you want to save $200 per month for retirement for all of 2016. Then write out exactly how you’ll achieve your goal. Maybe you’ll start using coupons to save on groceries, or set a goal of researching one monthly bill per month to find other ways to save. You might commit to eliminating one restaurant trip out per month for all of next year to free up cash as well.”
John & David, Debt Free Guys: “Create S.M.A.R.T. Resolutions – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-Bound – This creates clearly defined goals and benchmarks for success. This way you can track your progress and know when modifications are needed.
Know the Who? What? When? Where? and Why? of your resolutions. For example, “I, Debt Free Guy, will save $2,400 in 2016 by direct depositing $100 from every paycheck into my Montana Capital account to put towards my emergency savings account and reduce my personal financial risk.”
It’s not hard to see that almost all of our financial experts are on the same track here. Plan for your goals, and decide how you’re going to accomplish them.
Most of the bloggers also though that there’s no reason to wait for the new year.
Kalen Bruce – Moneyminiblog.com: “Don’t wait until January. The few months between now and then could mean a huge difference in your finances. Start today.”
Gary Dek – Gajizmo: “While you never need to postpone financial health to make it a New Year’s resolution, if labeling as such will help you implement the proper changes, to each his own.”
This might not sound in line with a new year’s resolution, but there is certainly scientific evidence behind it. For example, most studies show that it takes the average person 21-66 days to form a new habit, and saving money to meet a financial goal is definitely a habit. The sooner you start, the better off you’ll be when your goals officially kick off.
Changing your financial habits, saving money, budgeting, or building your savings is a great way to start the new year, and if you take the time to plan out your goals, stick to just one or two important goals, and don’t try to do too much, you’ll be well on your way to success.
What do you think? Do you have any more goals for achieving your financial new year’s resolutions? Let us know.
About the Bloggers
Gretchen Lindow, Retired by 40 blog: Gretchen is a writer, entrepreneur, personal finance nerd, and the founder of Retired by 40!, the blog dedicated to documenting her family’s journey towards early retirement. She is mom to a beautiful little girl, and husband to her soldier. When she manages to tear herself away from her work, she enjoys good books, hard workouts, and as much as sun as she can handle.
Lazy Man and Money was created in 2006 to help people learn how to make their money work for them. You can get to financial freedom faster by working smarter, not harder. Today, I provide commentary on money, consumer protection, and tips for early retirement.”
Rick & Laurie, The Frugal Farmer: Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life.
David Auten and John Schneider are The Debt Free Guys who use their blog, Facebook, Twitter and books to help others become money conscious, live debt free and have fun. The Debt Free Guys have published three eBooks in the#MoneyConscious Series and a fourth, hard copy book called 4: The Four Principles of a Debt Free Life.
Miranda Marquit is a freelance journalist specializing in financial topics. She covers money-related subjects for a variety of outlets and has appeared in numerous publications including Huffington Post, AllBusiness.com, Forbes, NPR and U.S. News & World Report. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds.
Kalen Bruce is passionate about helping you master your finances and maximize your productivity. He defies millennial laws by having no debt and four children. You can get two of his books and two personal finance classics, all for free, at moneyminiblog.com.
Brian from DebtDiscpline is a personal finance expert and coach who is the founder of the blog Debt Discipline. Once gaining control of his family’s debt in 2010, and becoming debt free in 2014 he turned his focus to helping others.
Gary Dek, Gajizmo: Gary specializes in personal finance, blogging, investing and entrepreneurship.
Andrew Schrage is the co-owner of MoneyCrashers.com, which is a personal finance site dedicated towards providing readers with practical and valuable financial resources that they can implement in their daily lives. The site writes about everything from when to start saving for retirement to how to raise a family on a budget to the best cash back credit cards.