As another January rolls around, it’s time for the New Year’s resolutions list. This is therefore generally the time when there are articles full of helpful suggestions for resolutions you could make. In the real world, however, we generally know what resolutions we should make. In fact we often make them. The problem, however, tends to relate to keeping them. So, let’s look at ways you can give yourself the best chance of sticking with your resolutions throughout the year.
Make resolutions meaningful in the real world
Let’s take a fairly common financial resolution – save money. The first question is: “Why do you want to save money?”. There are lots of potential answers to this from retirement, to a home deposit, to the holiday of a lifetime. Once you have stated your savings goal, you can get a realistic idea of the amount you need to save, which then leads into creating a feasible savings plan over a realistic time frame. This turns an abstract idea into a way to finance something you really want and that has meaning.
Pay yourself first (and automatically)
If you’ve set a realistic budget then treat savings and investments in the same way as you probably treat paying your bills. Prioritise them and automate them. Set up direct debits so that the income you’ve allocated to saving and investing goes straight where it is supposed to go. Make sure that you have an instant-access savings account so that if you do make a mistake, or if a genuine emergency arises, you can bump up the level of your current account.
Set yourself milestones
Another advantage of connecting your resolutions to your goals is that it gives you the opportunity to recognise and celebrate progress. This could be when you make a purchase using money you’ve saved rather than taking on debt, or when you’ve achieved a percentage of your savings target. Recognise your achievement in some way, even if it’s just ticking off a box on a savings chart.
Make your resolutions public
Making your nearest and dearest aware of your resolutions has two advantages. Firstly it helps to keep you on track. You’ve published your goals and there’s a good chance your family and friends are going to take an interest in them and ask you about them, which will help to keep you on track. Secondly, it will help them to understand any changes in your habits. For example, if one of your resolutions is to save money, then you may well need to make changes to your current lifestyle. Making those close to you aware of this can help to smooth that process.