Master your 2020 money resolutions

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Another year is about to begin, and you’re ready for it. You’ve got your vision board pinned above your desk and a Pinterest board full of motivational memes to keep you going.

If you’re like 40 percent of Americans, chances are your New Year’s resolutions include some sort of financial goal. After all, we all have room for improvement, especially when it comes to spending and saving. While a vision board is a great way to start envisioning the future you want, what you really need is a solid plan that sets a specific financial target and outlines how you’ll get there.

If that sounds like a lot less fun than cutting out images of a beach house or a new car, don’t worry. We’ve got your back. Here’s a list of money resolutions for 2020—and a playbook for how to keep them.

 

Resolution #1: Spend less money.

According to a recent GOBankingRates survey, spending less is the most popular financial resolution for 2020, with 24 percent of Americans vowing to curb their spending (it’s actually tied for first place with paying down debt). The less money you spend this year, the more you can put toward your long-term financial goals, such as buying a home, starting a business, or retiring in style.

On the surface this resolution sounds simple: All you need to do is set a budget and stick to it. But that’s easier said than done. When life gets busy, it’s hard to find time to monitor every purchase you make—and easy to lose track of how much you’re spending day-to-day.

There are two keys to keeping this resolution. First, make sure the budget you set is one you can realistically follow all year. If it’s too ambitious, you’re more likely to get frustrated and scrap it. Second, you’ll need a few simple tools to help you stay on track. OCCU’s Budgets tool, for example, tracks your spending automatically. It’s built into your checking account, so all you need to do is take a few minutes to set it up and you can see at a glance how much you’ve spent on each of your budget categories. You can even set spending limits and receive alerts when you might be in danger of overspending. 

 

Resolution #2: Save $10,000.

Sound like too much? Adjust that number to something that feels more doable for you. The point of a New Year’s resolution is to set a goal that’s realistic and achievable, but just ambitious enough to encourage you to push yourself. Only you can decide where that sweet spot lies.

This is where your vision board comes in handy. Having a clear idea of what you’re saving for can motivate you to keep at it throughout the year. Decide what you want to save up for, whether it’s a long-term goal or your next big purchase, and go after it with gusto.

Once again, it all comes down to having the right tools. As Sean Pyles, host of NerdWallet’s SmartMoney podcast puts it: “Automate, automate, automate. The easier you can make good money habits for yourself, the more likely you are to actually do them. And automating things like savings transfers and credit card payments can take you far.”

Your OCCU checking account comes with built-in tools to help automate your savings. Change Jar rounds every debit card purchase up to the nearest dollar and transfers the extra into your savings account, while Savings Goals lets you set specific goals and set up automatic transfers to keep you on track. If you already have a robust savings account, you might want to consider using a CD to fund your long-term goals.

 

Resolution #3: Get a financial upgrade.

This resolution might not be on your list yet, but it should be. After all, it’s the easiest one to accomplish. All you need to do is take a look at your financial accounts—especially your checking account—and ask yourself if you can do better.

Once we open a bank account or credit card, most of us go on autopilot. It pays (literally) to shop around for financial services, because you never know when you might be able to score a better interest rate or more favorable terms. For example, consider that checking account you’ve been using for years. Are you earning interest on your balance? If not, it might be time to upgrade to OCCU’s Remarkable Checking, an account that earns interest just like a savings account with no-fees or minimum balance requirements.

With these simple, no-fuss resolutions, you can make a fresh financial start for the coming year. Want to get ahead on your 2020 financial goals? Consider funding your future with a CD or opening a Remarkable Checking Account.