Remember those New Year’s resolutions you made last month? By now, only about one in five people are still adhering to them. The rest of us have already let ours lapse.
People abandon their resolutions for all sorts of different reasons. Usually it’s because they’re too general, too vague or too unrealistic, says leadership coach Kristi Hedges. But that’s no reason to give up on them entirely. Now that you’ve had a month to try them out, you probably have a better idea of what you can reasonably accomplish.
February is the perfect time to recalibrate your resolutions so they’re more in line with your personal reality, says motivation scientist Michelle Segar. By taking a moment to reflect on what worked for you and what didn’t, you can adjust your goals for the year and develop a more realistic strategy for accomplishing them.
Now that 2018 is up and running, most Americans are optimistic about their financial future. Three in four expect a better financial year than last year, and one in three made financial New Year’s resolutions. Two of the most common: saving money and paying down debt. If you haven’t made a similar resolution, it’s certainly not too late. If you did, here are a few simple strategies for tackling them.
Saving money is the number one New Year’s resolution for 2018. More than half of people surveyed say they intend to build up their savings this year.
Whether you’re saving up for something specific, like a down payment or college fund, or you just want to expand your safety net, it’s important to set a concrete goal. If you’re aiming for a specific dollar amount, you can even break it down into monthly goals to make it more manageable. If your goal is to increase your general savings, experts recommend saving at least 15 percent of your gross income.
If you’re having trouble saving consistently, it could be because you’ve set your target too high. To determine how much you can realistically save, you’ll need to sit down with your budget and see where you can reasonably make cuts.
Here are a few savings habits you can start to help amplify your efforts:
- Set a budget you can easily stick to.
- Try a simple savings strategy like the Spend Save Share plan.
- Open a savings account with compound interest so your savings grow more over time.
- Enroll in OCCU’s Change Jar program, which rounds up every debit purchase to the nearest dollar and automatically transfers the difference into your savings account.
Pay down debt
One in four people say their biggest financial regret of the previous year was not paying off as much debt as they wanted. The more debt you have—and the longer you have it—the more you end up paying in interest.
The task may seem overwhelming at first, but remember: No matter how much you owe, every small action you take saves you money in the long run. When evaluating your New Year’s resolution, it helps to choose one loan or credit card to focus on while making minimum payments on everything else. When you focus your efforts, you’ll start seeing results more quickly, which can motivate you to keep going.
If you’re having trouble sticking to a plan, there are several different debt repayment strategies you can try; it may be a simple matter of finding the plan that works best for you.
Here are a few debt reduction ideas to help you get started:
- Use the snowball method to pay off debts, starting with the smallest and working your way up.
- Start snowflaking, or taking small steps every day to help pay down debts.
- Consider consolidating your debts with a home equity line of credit.
- Check your credit report for errors at least once a year.
Once you have a clear goal and a strategy for achieving it, you’re much more likely to achieve your New Year’s resolutions. So even if your January vows fell flat, you can still revamp and renew them in February, which will give you a much better chance at succeeding this time around!