2018 Financial Resolutions: 5 Tips to Turn Your Goals Into Habits

by Jessica Sommerfield · 2 comments

2018 resolutions
A recent survey showed that 84% of us have financial goals for 2018, and these five top the list:

  1. Saving money
  2. Paying down debt
  3. Sticking to a budget
  4. Improving credit scores
  5. Increasing retirement savings

How do these line up with your 2018 money goals?

It’s easy to set New Year’s goals, but statistics show that only 8% of us successfully achieve them. A few reasons we don’t reach our financial goals, specifically, are that we tend to set too many goals and fail to create a plan of how we’re going to accomplish them.

If you want to make 2018 different, here’s some MoneyNing advice for moving these top five from goals to lifelong habits:

2018 financial goals#1. Saving Money

There are so many savings methods to choose from, so keep looking until you find one that works for you. Stashing cash in an envelope works, but if you want to earn some interest, consider short-term savings options like a high-yield savings account, certificate of deposit (CD), money market account, or investment account.

There are also endless ways to save money on consumables, activities, service bills, travel, and other expenses. You can generate savings income by selling things, taking online surveys, or starting a side hustle. Look at our savings topics here on the site and you’ll find plenty of ideas to get you started.

#2. Paying Down Debt

As we realize debt’s impact on financial stability, spending and savings power, and our future retirement lifestyle, eliminating it becomes more of a priority. As with savings, there are many options for paying off debt.

Some people may prefer a  slow and methodical approach, while others find motivation in the momentum-building debt snowball, debt avalanche, or debt blizzard. If high interest rates are your main concern, you might want to consolidate your debt with a low-interest personal loan or transfer your debt to a 0% APR credit card.

After putting all that work into paying off your debt, you’ll be more determined to stay debt-free. Here’s some advice on how to never fall into debt again.

#3. Sticking to a Budget

Following a budget sounds deceptively simple — which is why so many of us fail to keep this goal. It isn’t always a lack of discipline that leads to budget failure. Something could simply be out of sync with your cash flow calculations or the type of budget you’re using, so awareness is key.

Before setting up a new budget, track your spending to get a feel for where your money goes and where you have room to make changes. There are plenty of free software programs and mobile apps to help you out! Keep in mind that budget plans aren’t one-size-fits-all, and they can be as simple or as complex as you need. You might discover you appreciate the structure of the classic 50/20/30 rule or the flexibility of an alternative — such as an automatic spending plan.

#4. Improving Credit Scores

A good credit score demonstrates financial responsibility, and it can be key to a low-interest rate on a personal loan or favorable terms on a mortgage. If your credit score isn’t where you need it for important money moves in 2018, there are immediate steps you can take to start improving it.

First, check your credit report for errors and get them removed. Then, determine and target the behavior that’s dragging down the score the most. Is it late payments? Start there. Is it maxed-out credit limits? Work on improving your debt-to-income ratio. Is it a lack of credit history? Start building it responsibly. Even something as positive as closing a credit card account needs to be done carefully to protect your credit score.

#5. Increasing Retirement Savings

One in four workers has saved less than $1,000 for retirement. Considering the state of Social Security, increasing life spans, and the uncertainty of the economy, saving enough for retirement is crucial for everyone. With so many other demands on the budget, it’s easy to let this goal slip, but — thanks to the wonders of long-term investing — you don’t have to save a lot to build a nest egg.

By starting early, saving consistently (consider automation), and saving strategically with the right types of funds, you can end 2018 well on your way to meeting your retirement income needs.

Editor's Note: I've begun tracking my assets through Personal Capital. I'm only using the free service so far and I no longer have to log into all the different accounts just to pull the numbers. And with a single screen showing all my assets, it's much easier to figure out when I need to rebalance or where I stand on the path to financial independence.

They developed this pretty nifty 401K Fee Analyzer that will show you whether you are paying too much in fees, as well as an Investment Checkup tool to help determine whether your asset allocation fits your risk profile. The platform literally takes a few minutes to sign up and it's free to use by following this link here. For those trying to build wealth, Personal Capital is worth a look.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • The start of the year is a great time to get focused and state your goals going forward. I am now in the habit of saving over 60% of my net take home pay after years of making sure I pay myself first.

  • Cheryl says:

    It is important in that investment portion to give a 10% tithe (Malachi 3:10) as God then helps protect the other 90% from problems that erode it. I have found many sales and blessings when I give 10% and problems that do not occur to me (such as a flat tire, etc., that costs unexpected money).

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