Forget resolutions – it’s time for a financial New Year’s revolution!
It’s New Year’s resolution season! Even though many resolutions don’t make it until the end of winter, it can still be a helpful exercise for many people.
Many years ago, I decided to begin each year with a financial revolution! Check out how Merriam Webster defines revolution:
- the action by a celestial body of going round in an orbit or elliptical course (not this one… that might leave me back where I started!)
- a sudden, radical or complete change (ah…getting closer. I like it but when I try radical change I sometimes can’t keep it up, so…)
- a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something (Bingo! This is it!)
Thinking about what you want to do differently can help you align your values with your actions. So, where do we begin?
How was 2018?
Let’s start with what you already know: how was 2018 for you? Reflect on last year and ask yourself:
- What worked for you?
- What didn’t work?
This is a good starting point for figuring out what you want to change in the new year.
Making measurable resolutions for 2019
With your 2018 finances and financial behaviors in mind, what do you want to do differently this year?
Make sure your goals are measurable. For example, instead of resolving to “save more,” define what that means to you and what is important about saving. Do you want to save $20 or $100 a month? Or do you want to save up a specific amount by the end of the year?
A financial goal is usually more effective if we make it SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound). So try something like this:
S: I want to complete the 52 week saving challenge this year
M: I will do this by following the saving plan each week by putting the money in a savings account
A: I can achieve this goal by paying myself first each time I received regular or unexpected income
R: This is important to me because I worry when I don’t have emergency savings.
T: My milestones will be a weekly deposit (on Saturday) and the end goal is $1,378 by December 15th.
Decide how you’ll check your progress. Is there an app you use to measure your savings, or will you check the balance in your savings account regularly?
How will you make it happen?
Now that you know what, when, and how you want this change to happen, it’s time to make a plan and execute! Include check-in points to evaluate your progress and adjust your goals. If there are any resources you need, like an accountability partner or a separate savings account, get that in place as well.
Be realistic with yourself to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. Doing something differently with money can be challenging, so think about how you’re going to maintain momentum. I’m confident that creating a solid plan to achieve your revolution will improve your chances of following through!
Bonus: Your financial book club!
I certainly know what one of my resolutions is this year: to read and educate myself even more about finances and different perspectives. If you want to join me in this resolution, there are two books that I think everyone should read:
- The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clausen
- Mind Over Money by Brad Klontz
In the spirit of saving, check these out from your local library!
Saundra Davis is a nationally recognized financial coach and educator. Her experience in the U.S. Navy, where she made every money mistake possible, and her 20 years serving community-based organizations led her to the reality that the best way to help people find a path out of poverty is to help them become their own financial expert.