If you’re like most people, you likely start each year with a list of resolutions to help you improve various aspects of your life. The list may include resolutions to help you become more physically fit, further your career growth and improve your personal relationships. Another category of resolutions you may make centers on those that affect your finances.
If the latter is true, there’s probably a good chance that your list of resolutions for the new year looks the same, year after year … after year. Yes, it’s easy to come up with ways you can improve at year’s end, but seeing those resolutions through and actually making them happen is another story entirely.
Spend less, save more, pay down debt — how can you make 2022 the year you actually stick to these and other financial resolutions?
Below, we’ve compiled a list of tips that can help you keep your financial resolutions throughout the new year.
Set measurable goals
Don’t just resolve to be better with money this year. Set realistic, measurable goals to help you stay on track and to ensure you’re actually making progress. For example, you can resolve to increase your spending by a certain amount by the time you hit the mid-year point, decide to trim your spending in a specific category by a set percentage or promise to pay all your bills on time for the entire year.
Bonus tip: To make it easier, keep those goals SMART:
Creating a budget can take some time and lots of number crunching, but it’s not the real challenge of financial wellness. The hard part comes when you’ve got to actually stick to that budget and make it part of your life. And one reason many people don’t end up keeping their budget is because they spend money without consciously thinking.
Resolve to be more mindful about your spending this year, which means actually thinking about what you’re doing when you swipe that card or hand over that cash to the cashier. You can accomplish this by taking a moment to think about what you’re purchasing and how much you’re paying for it. You can also set yourself up for better success by staying off your phone while you complete your in-store transactions.
Bonus tip: To make this easier, use this calculator to determine how much you actually earn in an hour, and to see how much of your work time you’re “spending” when you make a large purchase. Is it really worth the price?
Partner up with a friend
According to MyFitnessPal.com, dieters who share their food diaries with a buddy lose twice as much weight. It’s basic psychology: When we know we have to answer to someone else, we’re more likely to stick to our resolutions — and this works for financial resolutions as well.
Choose a friend who is in a similar financial bracket as you are and has a comparable relationship with money. Also, it helps if they have similar resolve to set and stick to those financial resolutions together. Set up a weekly time to review progress (or regression) you each have made, and make sure you both come prepared with details and proof to show how you’ve handled your money.
Bonus tip: To make it even easier, you can use a money management app, like Mint, to help you track your spending, find your weak areas, and stay accountable for your friend.
Write it down
In an era where some people can go without touching a pen and paper for days, writing down New Year’s resolutions can seem obsolete, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. The act of putting your financial resolutions into writing will help to imprint them on your memory. Plus, you’ll have a list of your resolutions to reference throughout the year to help keep you on track.
Bonus tip: Writing doesn’t need to be physical in order to count. You can use a resolution-tracking app, like Strides, where you can record, track and reference your New Year’s resolutions at any time with just a few quick clicks.
Sticking to your financial resolutions isn’t easy. Follow the tips outlined here to make 2022 the year you truly get your finances into shape.