Does New Year’s Eve feel like a lifetime away, even though it has only been a couple of months? Now is the time to check in and see how you are holding yourself accountable to that resolution you made on January 1st.
Improving your financial health is one of the best moves you can make for your future. Much like going to the gym every other day, it can take a while to see the benefits of your financial changes and it is easy to get disheartened.
Fear not, there are a number of proven tactics that will help anyone successfully keep their resolutions. These include practices in self-reflection, breaking larger goals into smaller, more manageable pieces, and creating an incentive structure that offers small rewards for completing each phase.
1. Identify Why You Chose Your New Year’s Resolutions in the First Place
Whether you want to build an emergency fund, stick to a budget, or pay off debt, the year isn’t over and you have plenty of time to get back on track. Before restarting your goal, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why did I choose this/these goal(s)?
- Did I choose it/them because I felt like it would better my life or because other people told me to?
- Is this a goal(s) I’m genuinely passionate about completing?
The answers to these questions will help you refocus on your goals, and/or revise which goals are what you are really passionate about completing.
2. Narrow Down Your List
After assessing your initial financial resolutions, it is time to identify what about them is most valuable. Maybe you were looking to overhaul your financial life, but really you need to take the first step of saving more.
It can also be difficult to keep several goals at once. Instead, focus on one or two high priority resolutions instead of several that don’t carry as much weight. The joy of those accomplishments could also help you tackle future resolutions and inspire more impactful financial goals.
3. Make Your Goals Measurable
Now that you have a goal in mind that you are passionate about sticking to, figure out how you will measure your success. For example, instead of aiming to ‘save more money,’ adjust the goal to ‘I will save $100 out of every paycheck.’ Making goals measurable will help you stay accountable to yourself and others helping you.
4. Get Your Friends & Family Involved
Speaking of others helping, it is important not just to be accountable to yourself. Vocalizing your personal finance goals to your friends and family will help you stay honest on your progress. The people close to you can also help you achieve your goals. Maybe you want to save more, so your friend will suggest drinks at their place, rather than meeting at a bar.
Resolutions are easier to keep with encouragement from others, and you may be able to convince someone to join in as well.
5. Divide Your Financial Resolutions Into Smaller Goals
Ever given up on a project before you started because it seemed like too big a task? You aren’t alone, which is why you will want to break your big goal into bite-sized pieces.
By selecting milestones that lead you to the finish line your goal will feel more like a sprint than a marathon. Small victories will keep you motivated and excited about the resolution you are building towards.
6. Treat Yourself With a Rewards System
When you do hit those milestones, be sure to celebrate them in a way that doesn’t set you back. If you are trying to save money, consider buying something that you had been avoiding in the name of frugality. Again, a treat for yourself does not mean completely undoing your progress. It is meant to be something small and meaningful that you earned and will continue to earn by staying on track.
7. Use Tools & Technology to Achieve Your Goals
If you have set a personal finance goal this year, there are an abundance of tools that you can lean on to help keep you on track. Like a friend that you carry around, they aren’t worried about telling you the truth about your progress. Using a mobile application, you might even be able to share your progress with friends or family working towards the same goal. Setting up a friendly competition could help motivate you to get to your next milestone.
8. Leave the Past in The Past
Don’t beat yourself up for neglecting your resolution and restarting. Understand why it is you stopped working towards your goal, and then focus on how good it is that you are getting back on track.
Why You Should Keep Your Financial Resolutions
It might be hard to get back on track with your financial goals, but remember why you made them in the first place and think of how accomplished you will feel next New Year’s Eve. It might take a while, but developing new, consistent habits will set you up for long-term success.
This article was written by Carolyn Pairitz Morris, Senior Editor at Earnest.