Is it happening to you yet? Are you already starting to feel like those New Year’s resolutions you made are so… “last year?”
During the holidays, it often seems like anything is possible. We can lose weight, quit smoking, save money, and be a better person! But even as the New Year’s Eve fireworks fade, so does our resolve. All those resolutions suddenly sound a lot less fun, and a lot more like actual work.
If you made a financial resolution or two for this year, you’re not alone. According to Fidelity’s 7th Annual New Year Financial Resolutions Study, more than a third of Americans (37 percent) are prioritizing finances in 2016. The most popular resolutions? Saving more, spending less, and paying off debt. While those sound great in theory, I’m guessing more than a few of us woke up on January 1 and thought, “Where do I even start?”
So, here you go: To help you get started on the right financial foot in 2016, I’ve put together five ways to think differently about financial New Year’s resolutions:
See the resolution as an opportunity, not an onerous task. Do you want to buy a new home? Retire in style? Leave an inheritance for your children? Frame your “why” first, and then think about all the creative ways you can get there. Saving more, spending less and paying off debt are nothing more than strategies in support of a goal. Those who know why they want to do these things, and can visualize their goals in a clear way, may be more likely to stick to their resolutions. (For a little inspiration, check out this free course from author and TED speaker Simon Sinek.)
Talk about it. It’s human nature. When family members and friends share their hopes and dreams, we naturally want to help. Maybe a friend will connect you to a better job or business opportunity to help you achieve your goal faster, or maybe a family member will give you moral support when you need it most. Talking about goals makes them more concrete, and you more accountable to achieve them.
Make it social. Do you and your friends have similar goals? Working on them together can keep you motivated and on track. Get your friends to join you for a financial scrapbooking party, raise money for a mutual charity, or create a bulk-buying club to save money on essentials. When you reach your goals, celebrate together.
Gamify it. To save cash for vacation souvenirs and gifts, a friend of mine puts aside every five-dollar bill she gets in change. If she buys something, and the change includes a fiver, she automatically puts it in an envelope. By making a game of saving five-dollar bills, she saved more than $200 in 2015 for vacation shopping. What could you do if you made a game of it?
Reward yourself in the short term. If you’ve identified long-term financial goals, and worked hard in 2016 to achieve them, don’t forget to recognize your progress when the holidays come around again this year. It could be the motivation you need to start thinking about next year’s resolutions!
How will you stick to your New Year’s resolutions this year?