Put the Resolve Back into Your Resolutions
27 Feb 2017 | Back to Blog
Weight loss’ and ‘improve finances’, are two of the most popular answers to the question, ‘What are your New Year’s resolutions?’ Gyms see a surge in new memberships and attendance, health food stores longer lines, and wealth advisors more phone calls. You’re probably inundated with articles on making resolutions every January as well, but by Valentine’s Day many resolutions are falling by the wayside and you’re hard-pressed to find an article on putting the RESOLVE back into the resolutions you made for yourself.
The challenge with New Year’s resolutions is that they are hard to keep, and that’s especially true when it comes to financial resolutions. It’s because our financial lives are complicated, emotional, and most of all, because the present tends to take away from future priorities.
Fortunately, two months in is a great time to do some analysis to regroup where you’ve faltered, and strengthen what’s been working for you so far. Your money resolutions are worth keeping, not only because they’ll improve your financial situation, but because they’ll improve your confidence and make you more optimistic about the future. So here are eight ways to keep your resolutions on track in 2017:
- Break goals into chunks – perhaps in January you wrote down a list that includes goals like ‘pay down credit card debt’, ‘save for a down-payment on a new car’, ‘save for next year’s wedding’ or ‘invest for your daughter’s university fees’. That was a great start but it helps to get a bit more specific. So now try to write down some new goals, example ‘cut credit card debt by 25% by the end of June’, ‘save for your wedding dress by Easter’, or ‘invest towards one semester of tuition each quarter’. You’ll have a longer list of goals, but each will be easier, and their timelines shorter.
- Set visual reminders – As we said earlier, finances are emotional, and visual reminders help with that for two reasons. First, they help you focus on what you have, instead of what you lack. By putting photos of the people and places you love most around you, you will see how rich your life is and why you’re working. Second, vision boards from magazine clippings or online boards like Pinterest serve as reminders of what you’re working for.
- Make it automatic – take the risk of human error out of the equation, by setting up standing orders to pay down debt and shift money from transaction to investment accounts each month. This eliminates late fees, and counteracts the temptation to compromise on your future objectives.
- Regular Reviews – check on your progress each month, and meet with a financial advisor semi-annually to review your progress and make adjustments.
- Celebrate achievements – Put your standing orders in your calendar, and with each standing order and review give yourself a pat on the back because you were successful! It may be candy bar, and pedicure, or a trip to the beach, it could even a happy-dance to your favourite song, do whatever allows you to make positive associations with money goals. Just make sure your celebration doesn’t blow the budget objectives.
- Be more generous – when you make financial planning too stringent, you risk falling into the trap of feeling guilty about your spending, which can make you feel resentment and, ultimately, lose motivation. It’s like going on a lettuce only diet and feeling angry when we see cake. Like all things in life, when it comes to your money – everything in moderation. Make sure to take care of yourself, your children, and your community in the present while investing in the future.
- Use available resources – work smarter not harder on your finances, literally. Talk to your advisor, follow financial blogs, and subscribe to newsletters. By becoming more educated about your finances you’ll better understand where you are, and which tools will get you where you need. It will also make you more able to manage investment risk and learn about new opportunities early.
- Show off – tell your close friends and family about your goals and celebrate with them when you achieve them. Let people who care about you hold you accountable and give you praise when you need it, and importantly, do the same for them!