Three Practical Steps for Keeping This Year’s Financial Resolutions

Happy New Year! I know I’ve been away a little longer than I thought. I decided to take time out and enjoy my vacation with Ben and others, instead of updating the blog everyday. But now with 2014 in full swing, I’m eager to get started again.

The new year always brings a time for resolutions. Many of us vow to loose weight, get better with our finances, and/or stop a bad habit (smoking, drinking, etc.). Most of the time, these resolutions repeat every year.

I want you to break the cycle this year, at least for your finances. So this week I’m giving an easy and practical approach to getting your finances in order.

The first step involves setting realistic goals. I hope you read my previous posts on setting goals and doing a year-end review.  If you haven’t, you should take a look at those first before getting started.

Now, here are three steps you should take to ensure that you achieve your financial goals in 2014.

1. Write down your goals and share with a friend

Surprisingly, a lot of people never write down their goals. They may think about them or talk about them with friends, but they never put pen to paper. A recent study showed people who wrote down their goals and shared them, as opposed to merely verbally stating the goals, are 33% more likely to achieve their goals.

Writing down goals helps you succinctly state what you want to achieve and serves as a visual reminder of what you are working towards.  In addition, sharing the information with a friend can help you develop the goal and set additional standards for yourself.

As I stated before, your goals should be as concrete as possible. So rather than saying “I would like to get out of credit card debt this year,” say something like “I would like to pay off my $5,000 of credit card debt December 31, 2014.”

In addition to setting concrete goals concrete, set something attainable. While it may not be realistic that you will have your finances in perfect order a year from now, taking foundational steps like paying off debt, creating a budget, and/or saving 10% of your salary for retirement will help give you the momentum you need to accomplish any financial goal you set your mind to.

2. State three things you can do right now to start achieving your goal

Now that you have written down and shared your goals, list three practical steps that you can take to start achieving them.  As with the goals, writing down the actions needed to accomplish them will help you develop a concrete plan and monitor your progress.

For example, if your goal is to pay off your credit card debt. Your practical steps may be:

  • figure out how much I need to pay every month to pay $5000 plus interest by the December 31, 2014,
  • create a balanced budget that allows me to pay this amount in addition to my living expenses, and
  • set up auto draft for my credit card payments with the first payment coming out January 15, 2014.  As you achieve each step, mark it off the list and create another one. Always having three practical steps will help keep you focused and motivated.

3. Set up monitoring sessions with a friend

Not only will sharing your goals with a friend help you make them more concrete and achievable, it also creates incentive to stick with your goals. Therefore, you should set up accountability sessions with a friend to monitor your progress. The amount of monitoring sessions depends on the type of goal and how often you think you need to check in. It could be every day, twice a week, or once a month. Whatever you decide, make sure that you and your friend help each other stay on track.

Taking these concrete steps now will help give you the best chance of achieving your resolutions for 2014. There’s no better time like the present to get started.

Some of my new year’s goals involve making this blog more accessible and far reaching. As such, I need to take some time to develop the site itself, rather than just focus on content. For now, I’m cutting my posts down to three a week in order to improve the overall site. Once everything works how I want it, I’ll ramp back up.

And as always, feel free to message or tweet me with any feedback or tips. I always enjoy hearing from you.

Cheers to financial success in 2014!