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Six Ways to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions and Financial Goals

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Are you one of the 92 million Americans likely making a financial New Year’s resolution for 2022? There are many financial resolutions that you can make, depending on your situation. But making them is easy; it’s keeping them that is hard.

Don’t give up already, though. There are a few universal ways to make this year different (really!). No matter what your financial goals are, here are six tips for following through in 2022.

 

1. START SMALL

It can be tempting to set an ambitious goal. After all, we have a whole year ahead of us to achieve it! I don’t know about you, but I see a lot of my aspirational resolutions for 2021 staring back at me, untouched.

Start small. You’re more likely to keep your resolutions if they feel attainable, or even very attainable. Set yourself up for success with achievable goals that make you feel good about your progress/accomplishments and keep your momentum moving forward.

One way I do that is to mix in at least a couple of goals that I can quickly cross off. Think “cancel unnecessary subscriptions” or “sell unused furniture on Facebook Marketplace.” Not all New Year’s resolutions have to wait until year-end to be completed (more on that later).

 

2. BE SPECIFIC

Say you want to increase your savings this year. That’s an admirable and worthwhile goal. But how will you save money? How much do you want to save? What are you saving for?

It’s hard to know how to tackle a vague goal, or if you’ve really accomplished it. Get specific with your resolutions to make them actionable, achievable, and concrete.

Instead of “get out of debt,” pay your credit card bill in full each month. Rather than “plan for retirement,” talk to a financial advisor. With those refinements, you know what success looks like.


3. FOCUS ON THE PROCESS

Alas, we can’t dictate the outcomes of our New Year’s resolutions. (It would be so much easier if we could!) All we can control are our actions in pursuit of our goal.

Make your resolutions accordingly. By focusing on the process, you set yourself up for success. You can measure your progress by following a process that is within your control, rather than a result that isn’t.

What would this look like if you’re hoping to save money in 2022? Instead of resolving to save $2,000 in the coming year (to pick a random number), have part of your paycheck deposited directly into your savings account. Or create an analog savings strategy where you put any change into a jar and see how much you have at year’s end.

You can have a destination in mind, but the only way to get there is by putting one foot in front of the other.

 

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4. TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

“What’s measured gets done.” The internet debates who the quote should be attributed to, but whoever said it (maybe Peter Drucker?), the words still ring true. How can you accomplish your goals if you have no benchmark for success?

Create a system to measure how you’re doing with your New Year’s resolutions. As best-selling author and habit expert James Clear writes, tracking has three main benefits: it reminds you, motivates you, and gives you immediate satisfaction. Even comedian Jerry Seinfeld tracks his progress—on a big calendar he marks each day that he writes jokes, creating a visual chain that he’s not supposed to break.

It’s a lot easier to take a day off if you don’t have a series of X’s or a budgeting app to keep you accountable. However you log your progress, it will help you stay on track and show you getting closer to your goal.

 

5. MAKE NEW “MONTH” RESOLUTIONS

Is anyone else daunted by keeping resolutions for an entire year? I sure am. But who says they have to be annual?

One way to keep your goals small, specific, and trackable is to make them monthly. As I see it, there are three ways you could make your goals month by month:

  1. Set a goal for each month. Go through the calendar year and line up 12 goals, one for every month. They can build on one another or be completely unrelated. Either way, you only have to focus on that one goal for the month.
  2. Reset your goals each month. For now, just make your resolution for the month of January. As January winds down, think about what your goal for February might be. Do you need to scale back to make it more doable? Are you ready to increase the degree of difficulty? Or is it time to move on to another area that you want to improve?
  3. Have the same monthly goal. Keep the same resolution throughout the year but break it down into twelve goals—i.e. setting aside $150 each month for your savings. You can have the satisfaction of checking the boxes as you go. It can also help you stay on track. So what if you lapse during the month of March? See the goal without a line through it and use it as motivation to get right back in the saddle for April.

 

6. HAVE SOME FUN!

Saving $2,000 or paying your credit card off each month are worthy goals. Why not have a little fun with your New Year’s resolutions, though?

For some, the numbers, spreadsheets, and financials might be incentive enough. For others (raises hand), a more creative and motivating goal can be useful. What are you saving for? What does paying off your credit card each month allow you to do?

Maybe the $2,000 is your travel budget for that trip to Belgium you’ve always wanted to take (when it’s safe!). Perhaps what you save in credit card interest can go towards your car payment, or you could cash in your rewards points for a free flight home for the holidays in 2022.

 

Whatever you resolve to do in 2022, I hope these tips help you achieve your goals, financial and otherwise.

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Nick Bohlen

About Nick Bohlen

Nick Bohlen is a communications specialist at VSECU, sharing ideas and information with staff, members, and Vermonters. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, traveling, and exploring Vermont’s great outdoors with his wife and dog.
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