Are you someone who avoids making resolutions because you know you’ll fail at following through with them? You’re not alone. A recent roundup of statistics shows that about 38 percent of us never make resolutions.
Although this approach may save some disappointment, the need to sell slightly-used workout gear online, or even some wishfully-invested financial resources, giving up entirely still won’t help you accomplish your goals – whether to improve your physical fitness, mental fitness, or fiscal fitness.
Even if it helps to ditch the negativity associated with making formal resolutions, the beginning of the year is a good time to start a new financial habit like budgeting, set a savings goal, or otherwise improve your fiscal fitness. It’s hard but not impossible to stick with these resolutions, and these tips can help.
- Use the SMART principle.
The acronym SMART is a good way to remember an effective strategy for setting your fiscal finance goals. Make them specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-specific. In other words, instead of deluding yourself that you’ll completely overhaul years of poor money management, start to tackle it in bite-size portions. Keeping goals specific also makes them seem more real and tangible than the undefined “improving my financial fitness.” To get you started, here are some mini-tasks that can be completed in less than 15 minutes.
- Incorporate the new practice into your routine.
Science shows we are creatures of habit. Once something is part of our routine, even if it’s an unpleasant task, we don’t seem to mind it as much. Getting to that point requires making a deliberate effort to incorporate new financial habits into your routine. To make this step easier, set up reminders on your smartphone calendar for specific times and dates you’ll set aside to address various aspects of your finances, whether daily, weekly, or monthly.
- Keep doing it – repetition leads to habit.
The more frequently you perform a new financial task as part of your routine, the sooner it becomes a habit – something that doesn’t require any willpower. That’s the trick.
- Don’t judge yourself for failures; expect them.
Half the battle of following through with new resolutions of any kind is how you handle failure. If we were to ask the 8 percent of people who succeed at sticking to new resolutions what their secret was, you can almost guarantee it involves expecting and accounting for failure. Instead of hoping you won’t fail, plan to fail. That may seem pessimistic, but it’s more realistic than thinking you’ll be perfect! After all, we’re just human. It’s what you do after you fall that makes the difference between permanent failure at financial goals and long-term success.
- Give yourself some wiggle room to account for slacking off.
You should create some wiggle room into your fiscal fitness improvement plans. Round up or down, schedule a “slack” day or two, and don’t make plans that are too rigid or that depend too heavily on your own consistency. This will take some of the pressure off and allow you to move forward even if you are taking a step back every once in a while.
- Hold yourself accountable.
Even as you expect to fail and leave yourself some room to slack off, don’t go to the opposite extreme of approaching your fiscal fitness goals without purposefulness. One of the best ways to hold yourself accountable is to make your intentions public and ask others to support you. There’s power in numbers. Just as it’s easier to commit to a 5 a.m. workout if you have someone by your side, it’s easier to change the numbers that determine your financial fitness when you use the buddy system.
Instead of refusing to make financial resolutions because you’ll inevitably fail, use the expectation of failure, along with these tips, to move beyond that cycle this year. Gradually and deliberately improve your financial well being and turn that ship around towards financial success.