Three Tips for Successful Money Resolutions

Each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life.  The secret of success
is in turning that diary into the best story you possibly can. 
~ Douglas Pagels

 

As quickly as you bring up the topic of New Year’s Resolutions you are likely to receive knowing asides about their lack of effect. Whether a blown diet or the inability to follow a budget, it is hard to argue that turning over a new leaf is rarely an easy victory. When you think about it, though, investing and financial planning are largely similar endeavors to New Year’s resolutions. Results are aspirational and require sacrifice, commitment, and a process to be successful. 

A survey by Allianz Life Insurance* this year indicates that health and wellness are at the top of respondents lists for likely resolutions. Financial stability trailed well behind and fully 80% of respondents said they would not focus on financial planning. If you’re reading this, perhaps you are part of the minority willing to consider money and finances in resolutions.

Here are three simple tips for making successful financial resolutions: 

One: Write it down and then say it out loud.
A study by Gail Matthews, PhD, at Dominican University found that individuals who wrote down their goals were 50% more likely to achieve success against those with unwritten goals.  Once you’ve determined your resolutions, financial or otherwise, share with family and friends. When you talk about it, you reinforce your commitment and garner support. 

Two: Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Small, incremental goals may be more achievable than grand ambitions. If you’ve never set a budget, knowing an amount you may be able to save might not be the appropriate first step. Instead, start by tracking your spending habits for several months. In these cases, it’s ok to create a resolution for the next few weeks or months and then commit to follow-up resolutions once your homework is done. 

Three: Seek professional assistance.
You may be serious about improving your financial health but lost when it comes to knowing how to begin.  Your list of “to-dos” could be overwhelming. By working with a Certified Financial Planner, you can discuss and plan for long-term needs but also prioritize important actions for NOW.  

If you’re interested and willing to consider some of my tips above, check out Friday’s blog with  twelve money-related resolutions for your consideration. 

* Hat Tip: “Diets Top Money Management for New Year’s Resolutions”, fa-mag.com, December 21, 2011.