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Create financial resolutions that can lead to results

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While setting goals is a great way to move toward what you want in life, New Year’s resolutions are not always easy to keep. Research shows that nearly a quarter of people give up on their resolution in the first week, and 43% by the end of January. Fortunately, there are many tools that can help people set and reach goals more successfully. Learn more about creating smarter financial resolutions and set a course to have your best year yet!

Use this checklist to take positive steps forward.

  • Break up big financial goals. As you think about your resolutions, start by making them specific. For instance, many financial goals, like retirement, paying off your large debt or saving for a down payment on a house, may take several years to reach. To start tackling larger aspirations, consider the intermediate steps you could accomplish in a year — things that would get you one step closer to achieving the big goal. Although you may not be able to save 20 percent for a down payment on a dream home in 12 months, you may be able to save 5 percent. When you set more realistic goals, you have a better chance of staying on track and seeing your resolutions through.
  • Hold yourself accountable. What will you do if you achieve your financial goals in the new year? Building a personalized reward system may help you to focus your energy and keep you incentivized. Say your goal is to save an extra $300 a month. Tell yourself that if you stick with your goal all year, you will reward yourself every three or four months. A nice dinner or concert ticket may mean more when you feel that you've earned it. For extra help staying accountable, consider telling a trusted friend or family member about your resolution, so they can help support you.
  • Use technology. To help you achieve your savings goals and adopt healthy money habits, numerous apps and web services can take money out of your bank accounts and set it aside automatically. Many apps allow you to set rules, establish a timeline and even set up an award system. You may also be able to round up purchases and put any extra amounts into your savings. For example, if you purchase a coffee for $5.50, the app can round up and move 50 cents from checking to savings. This way, you can passively keep your resolutions by outsourcing them to technology.
  • Be honest with yourself. As you work on your plan to reach your resolution, thinking about the "ideal" version of your spending habits may make it harder to stay on track. If you regularly spend $50 a month on take out or food delivery, slashing that line item to $0 will be much harder than slashing it to $25. You can modify your habits by making small, attainable changes.
  • Work with a pro. Working with a financial professional can be a smart way to find support and guidance. Think of financial professionals as a resource — one that can help you establish your goals and then create a roadmap to achieve them. They can help with long-term goals, such as retirement, but they also can work with you on goals with shorter timelines. Plus, checking in with them a few times throughout the year may help keep your resolutions on track and allow you the opportunity to make changes if needed.


Two things you can do today

  1. Make a list of your short- and long-term financial goals. Choose one or two to focus on in the new year.
  2. Think about your previous New Year's resolutions and consider why they were successful or unsuccessful. What could you have done differently?


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