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At the beginning of a new year, people make all sorts of New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions. But as time passes, those resolutions often fail to come to fruition. Some examples of common financial resolutions include:
- Sticking to a budget
- Paying down debt
- Starting an emergency fund
- Saving more for retirement
- Learning how to invest
- Improving your credit score.
Unfortunately, making a resolution is the easy part. Following through is the hard part.
Here are four signs you’re not committed to your financial resolutions, according to David Reyes, retirement financial advisor and founder of Reyes Financial Architecture, Inc. — and his advice on how to change that.
Failing To Make Specific Goals
Reyes said that making a resolution to save money without a specific amount or goal is a sign that you’re not committed to doing it.
How To Change It: Set SMART Goals
Reyes said to set SMART goals to help you follow through with resolutions like saving money. He said SMART goals are:
- Specific: Instead of “save more,” define a concrete amount or percentage of your income.
- Measurable: Track your progress with budgeting apps, charts or progress reports.
- Attainable: Start with smaller, achievable steps to build momentum and confidence.
- Relevant: Ensure your goals align with your overall financial priorities and desires.
- Time-bound: Set deadlines for milestones and the overall resolution.
Lack of Action or Planning
Another sign you’re not committed to your financial resolutions is a lack of action or planning on your part. Here are some examples, according to Reyes:
- Procrastinating on setting up automated transfers, if you’re trying to save.
- Failure to create a budget or track spending, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and want to know where your money is going.
How To Change It: Plan and Automate
The only way to keep track of your income and spending and consistently put money toward savings is to plan and automate, Reyes said. Here’s his advice:
- Create a budget by utilizing a budgeting app or spreadsheet: Allocate income for expenses, savings and debt repayment. Track spending, set reminders and visualize progress.
- Automate transfers: Schedule recurring contributions to savings.
Responding Emotionally Instead of Logically to Challenges
Challenges and setbacks will happen, and it’s important to deal with those logically, said Reyes. Here are some signs you’re not committed to financial resolutions like sticking to a budget or paying off debt, according to Reyes:
- Easily succumbing to temptation or giving up after minor setbacks. This could be frequent impulse purchases, skipping budget tracking due to frustration or feeling discouraged by slow progress.
- Making excuses or justifying overspending instead of acknowledging it as a setback.
- Feeling overwhelmed by existing debt or inadequate income: This can make saving or prioritizing financial goals seem futile and lead to emotional disengagement.
How To Change It: Address Underlying Issues
Here are Reyes’ suggestions on how to commit to your financial resolutions instead of letting your emotions rule you.
- Identify the root cause of overspending or debt: Are emotional triggers, lack of knowledge or lifestyle factors at play?
- Develop coping mechanisms: Address emotional spending with alternative stress-management techniques.
- Seek help for financial trauma or addiction: Professional support can be crucial for overcoming past financial difficulties.
Lack of a Support System
When you surround yourself with people who don’t share your financial goals — or friends or family who encourage impulsive spending and prioritize immediate gratification — Reyes said it can make adhering to resolutions challenging.
How To Change It: Seek Support and Accountability
Reyes suggested the following actions to help you commit to your financial resolutions:
- Find a financial accountability partner: Share progress with a friend, family member or financial coach.
- Join online communities or forums: Connect with others with similar goals for encouragement and support.
- Seek professional guidance: Consult a financial advisor or counselor for personalized advice and strategies.
Reyes also said that you should be willing to make adjustments to your resolutions, because unexpected events or changes in circumstances might require them. Also, he said to be prepared for setbacks. If they happen, he advises analyzing the reason behind the setback and then planning how to avoid the same thing in the future.
Finally, he said to make a habit of acknowledging your progress toward your resolutions — no matter how small — and even reward yourself in some small way to celebrate.
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