Create financial resolutions to help get 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 often set aside as quickly as they’re made. Fortunately, habit science is a growing field offering up many tools that 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 large goals, 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 of your dream home for a down payment in 12 months, you may be able to save 5 percent. Making your goals realistic will help you feel like they are doable.
  • 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. 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. One of the amazing things about saving money is that there are tools that can do it for you. Numerous apps and web services can automatically take money out of your bank accounts and set it aside. Some apps allow you to set rules: for example, your spare change is saved or you automatically save money each time you spend money on a guilty pleasure. If you splurge on ice cream on a hot day in July, for example, the app can automatically save a preset dollar amount for you. 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 eating out, 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 is 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 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.

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?

This information is brought to you by Athene — where unconventional thinking brings innovative annuity solutions to help make your retirement dreams a reality