Spending less and saving more, as well as paying down debt, are consistently among top financial New Year’s resolutions people make each year. But with 80 percent of resolutions failing by Valentine’s Day, how can people do better in 2019? I have Financial Security Expert Pamela Yellen, a two-time New York Times best-selling author, with:
Total household debt in the United States rose to $13.29 trillion in the second quarter of 2018, the 16th straight quarter that debt has increased. Meanwhile, excessive debt is among financial factors implicated in greater stress and health problems.
While the percentage of Americans making financial resolutions has dropped to an all-time low, 58 percent of those who made them reported they were in better financial shape, according to the Ninth Annual Fidelity Investments® New Year Financial Resolutions Study. That’s a good reason not to give up on making resolutions, Pamela says.
“Studies show that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than people who don't,” she notes.
Here are Pamela's 6 keys to help you keep your financial new year's resolutions:
- Understand that real, permanent change is usually driven by your own desire, rather than outside pressure.
- Enlist allies to help you stay on track. An ally – whether a professional for hire, a friend, or other mentor – can help you reinforce your commitment.
- Set incentives and consequences. Websites such as stickk.com allow you to give yourself incentives for sticking to your commitments and set up penalties for breaking them. When you make your commitment binding, you increase your chances of success. Plus it’s fun to reward yourself when you reach a goal!
- Don't set yourself up for failure by insisting on an all-or-nothing change. This is one of the main reasons people fail at keeping New Year’s resolutions or achieving other goals. Don’t fall victim to the voice in your head that says “You blew it.”
- Remind yourself of your goals. “Sometimes all it takes to stay on track is to pause and consider whether what you about to buy is more important than your goal. One of my favorite ways to do this is to wrap my charge cards in a picture or a few words describing my goals. Every time I take out a credit card, I’m reminded of why I am saving.”
- Skip the pity party when you fall short. Most successful New Year's goal-setters faltered for five consecutive years or even more before they ever succeeded, Pamela notes. Those who rebound the fastest are the ones who set aside emotional thinking and formulate a plan to get back on track.
“When you fall short, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, learn from your mistakes, and go right back to working toward your goal,” Pamela says.