January has come and gone, have you broken your New Year's resolutions yet? Now's the time of year when our dedication to those well-intentioned resolutions tends to wane.
Here are some tips to get back on track with your financial resolutions.
If you have made a financial resolution, such as paying down debt or funding that dream vacation, giving up can put a real damper on your wallet. Remember, it's not too late to get your focus back and make those dreams of better finances a reality again.
Ask yourself why you stopped. Maybe your goal was unrealistic or you really never had a plan in place to make the dream a reality. Either way you can restart your resolution, but this time set small goals. Maybe paying down debt is your goal. Have you looked to see how much debt you have and which debt you want to pay off? Define the exact goal, lay it out on paper and have a plan by knowing all the details. Once you've put your ideas to paper, plug in some real numbers, the sustainability of your plan can be that much easier. (You can use a credit card payoff calculator like this one to help you plan.) Make a plan, and stick to it. The best resolutions are the ones that help you develop habits.
2. Measure Your Progress
Avoid making your resolution and ignoring it. You need to take a look at how you are progressing from week to week. Set a day to look at the progress. Know what you have done to date and what you intend to do to meet that resolution going forward. Again, don't make it something extravagant, stick to small, measureable goals. If your goal was to boost your retirement fund, how much extra have you saved or what steps did you take to get to the savings point? It could be that you opened a bank account. Maybe you made a budget, or even started putting money into a savings account each week. Forcing yourself to answer these questions can help remind you of how important it is to keep your resolution.
If your goal is to build your credit in the new year so you can buy a new car or get a credit card, make sure you're tracking your progress on a regular basis. You can get your credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com and you can check your credit scores for free every 30 days on Credit.com.
3. Make It Simpler
Resolutions are not made out of complex desires. Usually it's something you've wanted to do but needed motivation to do and the new year provided that for you. If you need help, don't be afraid to ask a friend or significant other to help keep you focused and on track. Look for tools to make the resolution a reality from an app for budgeting to learning to manage your bank account online. Automating will make it easier and less painful. The simpler your resolution is, the easier it will be for you to keep it!
4. Motivate Yourself to Continue
Be proud of the progress you are making and motivate yourself by leaving reminders of what your pay off will eventually be. If you are saving up for a trip or new car, stick a photo of it on the fridge or in your wallet so you are constantly reminded that you are on your way to achieving that goal. Make a vision board. I am big on visual reminders because when I feel less motivated I look at my board and see the wonderful and exciting things I'll get from my resolution.
5. Reward Yourself
Once you are getting along well with your goal, treat yourself.Don't splurge or go off the deep end, but tell yourself you did a good job and go out for ice cream or allow yourself to enjoy the fruits of your focus and labor. These little perks you'd receive along the way can provide you with a little added incentive to stay on track.
Keeping and sticking to financial resolutions is hard, but with a little focus and reassurance you can complete that resolution. Don't be distracted by hiccups in the road. Hiccups happen, but you can quickly get yourself refocused and on your road again. Just think, by the time you complete your goal, it will be time again for another new resolution.
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