Every January, it's the same deal: You resolve to save more money, pay off your debts, and get your financial situation in order. Then February comes along and you're back to your old habits. If you've broken New Year's resolutions in the past, you're not alone. The vast majority of people give up on their resolutions within the first month of the year.
But this year can be different. With a few adjustments to your thinking and a few small hacks, you can make sure that your resolutions actually stick.
If you usually start the year off with a big goal, only to abandon it quickly, try a different approach. Instead of going big, go small. Make a resolution that's easy to keep. For example, instead of telling yourself you'll save $250 every paycheck, tell yourself you'll save $50. Then, set up an automatic transfer or Payroll Deduction so that $50 goes right to your savings account each pay period.
Another option is to start small and build your way up over the next 12 months. Some people like to start out saving $1 the first week of the year, then $2 the next week, and so on. By the last week of the year, they're setting aside $52 and will have saved $1,378.
The more specific your financial resolution is, the more likely you are to stick to it. For example, instead of saving that $50 per paycheck for a rainy day or "just because," give it a purpose. Perhaps you're saving to build up your emergency fund and you'd like to have $1,200 by the end of the year. Maybe you're saving $750 for a family vacation in June or $1,500 to buy new furniture in October. Knowing why you're saving, how much you would like to save, and when you'd like to have the money will help you stick with it all year.
Find a Buddy
Don't be shy about your New Year's resolutions. Telling people about your goals and plans will help you stay the course and keep your resolve. Another way to trick yourself into keeping your resolutions is to find a friend who has similar goals. You can check in with each other every week or month to make sure you're staying on track. While you might make excuses to yourself when you mess up or forget to save, you're less likely to make those same excuses to another person.
Give Yourself Reminders
If your resolution or financial goal for the year is a big one, it can be easy to lose sight of what you're working toward, especially when you're out shopping and are surrounded by lots of potential impulse buys. Keep yourself on track by leaving little reminders for yourself in places where you'll see them. If you're saving for a down payment, put a picture of a house you love on your refrigerator. If you're saving for a vacation, cut out a small picture of the place you want to go and tape it to the front of your credit or debit card. That way, when you pull the card out to buy something, you'll be reminded of your goal and might decide to put back whatever it is you don't need.
Keep at It
So you made a mistake and missed your savings goal for the month. Maybe you had an unexpected expense and had to use some money you've been trying to save to cover it. Life happens! The best thing you can do is accept any setbacks that come up and then keep moving forward. You might not reach your savings goal in March, but that doesn't mean you won't reach it in April. The important thing is to get back on track as soon as you can.
We’re Here to Help!
Setting up automated transfers or Payroll Deductions is a great way to boost your savings. It’s easy to do and only takes a few minutes to enroll. To learn more, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 202-479-2270.