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How to meet your money goals by the end of the year

Alyssa Pry
Personal Finance Reporter

You may have made a financial resolution for 2017—but did you keep it? Thirty-six percent of Americans made a financial resolution this year, according to Fidelity. The most popular resolutions? Save more, pay off debt and spend less overall.

As the year comes to a close, it’s common for our resolutions to fall by the wayside. But there’s still time to tackle your financial resolutions. Here’s what top financial professionals have to say about the importance of setting goals, and how you can still accomplish your 2017 resolutions by the end of the year.  

The importance of making a financial resolution

“It’s important to have financial goals because you need to have an idea of what you’re looking to accomplish. With no clear purpose, it’s easy to meander aimlessly and not make any progress.” Dawn-Marie Joseph, founder of Estate Planning & Preservation

“Setting a goal, especially with finances, helps you break down what changes you have to make.” —Kim Palmer, credit card expert at Nerdwallet.com

Setting financial goals is important because it gives you a target to strive for and holds you accountable.” —Joe Sterf, CPA and founder of Average Joe Finance

The easiest ways to reach your goals  

“First, you need to pick a goal that is meaningful to you and that you will be willing to ‘sacrifice’ for when other temptations and needs arise. Second, you need to put that goal in writing and revisit frequently so that you can stay focused on meeting your goal.” —Joe Berry, investment adviser, Semmax Financial Group

It’s really all about turning your big resolutions into small steps so you can feel encouraged and celebrate small victories. All of those little things add up over time so by the end of the year you can really see a big difference.” —Kim Palmer, Nerdwallet.com  

“Meet with a financial advisor. So many people think you need a certain amount of money, but that’s just not the case. The advisor can help you make a plan and stick with it. They can make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew.” —Colleen Carcone, director of wealth planning strategies, TIAA

“Keep the goal in front of you. Too often we start a year with great goals, only to completely forget what they are by March, let alone October! I write out my goals on a sticky note and put it on my bathroom mirror so that every morning and every night as I’m brushing my teeth I look at it and it stays fresh in my mind.” —Jeremy Walter, CFP, founder of Fident Financial

Making a dent in your debt by December

“Don’t wait any longer to start paying off your loan! From credit cards or student loans, pay off the debt that has the highest interest rate first and then work your way through debt with lower interest rates.” —Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com

“Even this far into the year, yes, you can make a difference in paying off debt. You can start cutting back on some of your expenses, or if you get a holiday bonus or year-end bonus, you can put that towards your debt.” —Colleen Carcone, TIAA

“Don’t add more debt! Before this holiday season starts, set a budget that doesn’t require any new debt. Keep your credit cards out of reach and your goals in sight.” —Ian Atkins, head financial analyst, FitSmallBusiness.com

“Look at what you are spending now per month. Look at the dinners, take-out, magazine subscriptions, monthly charges for apps or computer games/services you don’t need. Take the savings from these and put it toward your debt.” —Al Zdenek, founder of Traust Sollus Wealth Management

How to add to your savings ASAP

“Having a budget and sticking to it is critical. Meeting a financial goal for year-end will require saying ‘No’ to expenditures that are not necessary. Get lean and mean! Cut out the fluff.” —Joe Berry, Semmax

“Set up automatic payments into a savings vehicle. If you want to put more into your 401(k), 403(b) or a retirement savings that you have at work, call your HR department immediately. You can reach your goals, but it takes planning on your part.” —Dawn-Marie Joseph, Estate Planning & Preservation

“If your employer provides end-of-the-year bonuses or holiday bonuses, that’s a great opportunity to contribute to your savings. Set your bonus aside to further a financial goal.” —Ian Atkins, FitSmallBusiness.com

How to avoid getting discouraged and stick to your goals

“At times, you are going to have a few slip-ups with your goals. Don’t beat yourself up too bad. Give yourself 15 minutes of disappointment and then move on.” —Dawn-Marie Joseph, Estate Planning & Preservation

“Skip the pity party when you fall short. Don’t set yourself up for failure by insisting on an all-or-nothing change. Instead keep your focus on where you are going and your long-term savings goals.” —Pamela Yellen, financial expert, author of Bank on Yourself

“Don’t wait until the milestone date you have set yourself to find out that you haven’t met your goal. Review progress regularly and adjust your goal to be more realistic if it looks like you won’t hit your target. Keep goals realistic and you shouldn’t get discouraged.” —Amanda Gillam, personal finance professional, Solution Loans

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