Remember your New Year’s resolutions?
I know it’s been nine months, but there’s probably still some part of you hoping you might make some progress toward achieving your 2018 money goals, right?
The good news is, you still have three months to make them happen. And while you may not have a full year, a season is still plenty of time to get your resolutions back on track.
Here’s how ...
Step 1: Rewrite Your Resolutions
If the last time you thought about your New Year’s resolution was back in February, like the other 80 percent of Americans, the problem might not be you, but your resolution.
We have a tendency to set goals that are too general. While resolving to save more money or pay down debt is a great goal to have, it’s usually not specific enough to be effective.
Instead of saying, “I want to pay down more of my debt this year,” define exactly how much you want to pay off in the next three months.
While resolving to save more money or pay down debt is a great goal to have, it’s usually not specific enough to be effective.
Once you have a specific goal, you can get equally specific with your action plan for achieving it.
For example, if you want to save $1,500 in your emergency fund by the end of the year and there are some 15 weeks left in the year, you can calculate that you need to save $100 week to achieve your goal.
Take your specificity a step further by identifying exactly how you’ll adjust your current spending and savings habits to achieve this added savings. Are there specific expenses you can reduce or eliminate? Can you negotiate a raise or take on additional work to get and set aside the funds you need? Making your goals this specific helps ground them in clear behavioral changes and tangible outcomes.
Step 2: Systematize
Once you identify the specific changes you need to make to successfully execute your resolution, put systems in place that will help hold you accountable to following through.
For example, if you want to save that extra $100 each week in your emergency fund, set up an automatic $100 withdrawal from your checking account into your savings account each week to make sure it happens.
Better yet, schedule this transfer for the day after your paycheck is typically deposited into your checking account each week, so you don’t even see the money sitting in checking, and you’re less likely to think of it as cash you have available to spend.
This system of automating your finances helps ensure that your money resolutions don’t become an afterthought, sacrificed in favor of whatever spending temptations you might face in the day-to-day.
Step 3: Make Your Money Goals Meaningful
Wanting to save an extra $1,500 is a great goal, but it’s hard to follow through unless you get equally specific with what you’re saving FOR.
To help you keep your reasons for saving top of mind, create visual reminders of your goals.
After all, setting aside an extra $100 each week can feel like a major sacrifice. But if you know those savings are in service of protecting your loved ones in case of an emergency, or being able to afford an unexpected car repair before you’re next road trip, you’ll probably be more motivated to follow through.
To help you keep your reasons for saving top of mind, create visual reminders of your goals. For example, post an image of your next road trip destination as your desktop background, or wrap a picture of your kids around your credit cards as a reminder that you are working to build your emergency fund.
Whatever motivates you to save, make it visual and keep those reminders some place where you’ll see them regularly.
By implementing these three strategies now, you should be well on your way to having some major money wins to celebrate come the new year!