When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day, you made a resolution to improve your finances. Maybe the resolution was to finally say goodbye to your student loan debt. Maybe it was to bulk up your retirement savings. Maybe it was to tackle your credit card balance. Essentially, you want to change your money management for the better.
The big problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they are hard to keep. So, how can you stick to your financial resolution this year?
Divide Your Goals
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by goals like “eliminate your debt” or “save up enough for retirement.” These goals are large and vague. You will barely make any headway on them in a few months.
It’s good that you want to reach for the stars, but maybe you should start with a goal that’s in the atmosphere first? You want to be able to see your progress so that you feel motivated to continue and you don’t feel terrible for not reaching it.
So, divide up your big goal into several clear, small goals. For instance, instead of saying that you want to add $3000 to your kid’s college fund, go for $300 — and then repeat that goal ten times over. That feels much more doable!
Get to the Root of Your Problem
If your financial resolution is a response to a problem, like too much credit card spending or late bill payments, you need to get to the root of why you have this problem in the first place. Otherwise, you could end up back where you started.
Are you using retail therapy to cope with stress? Do you have financial anxiety? Does your job not pay you enough? Going deeper could help you reach your financial goal and ensure that you don’t need to make it all over again.
Be Smart about Your Budget
Even if you’re hell-bent on paying off your debt or putting money into your retirement savings, you still want to be smart about your monthly budget. Don’t let your ambitions sabotage your everyday needs. You can give yourself a lot of trouble if you focus too much on hitting your goal and not on taking care of the basics.
Why is that? Emptying your budget so that you don’t have any wiggle room can be risky, especially if you don’t have an emergency fund to rely on. If you’ve made this misstep, don’t worry—you can recover. You can cover small, emergency expenses with the help of a personal line of credit. With a line of credit, you can request a withdrawal within your credit limit and have cash ready if you need it — as soon as the same business day depending on the financial institution and whether you meet certain criteria. The credit option can be an effective back-up plan when something goes wrong.
How can you avoid this budgeting issue? Use one of the top budgeting apps to see what you can reasonably set aside each month for your resolution while giving you enough room for unexpected costs. It’s simple.
Celebrate Your Wins
It’s hard to stay committed to your goals. To help you maintain your motivation and keep up your momentum, you should celebrate your wins. Whenever you make it past a small threshold, reward yourself. This resolution is a change that’s supposed to make your life better, so don’t make it too punishing. Congratulate yourself.
Follow these tips and accomplish your financial goal this year. You can go the distance!