New Year's Resolution
Turning a New Year’s resolution into a Plan
With the New Year fast approaching, millions of people around the world will be thinking about their resolutions and hope to stick with them throughout the year.
A recent survey indicated that 15 percent of New Year’s resolutions are financial goals. Not surprisingly, most resolutions fail. Two key reasons for this are, we often set ourselves overly optimistic goals that are in reality difficult to achieve and, often our goals are vague with no plan on how to achieve them.
The top three financial New Year’s resolutions set in Australia are; saving more, spending less, and reducing debt. While these are great in theory, they are too broad and don’t focus on the small and simple ways to achieve these goals.
Turning vague broad concepts into SMART goals will significantly increase the chance of being successful. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Instead of saving more, a SMART goal would be to save $100 per week.
These goals are further enhanced if we can identify why we are saving the money. Is it for a house deposit, a holiday, our children’s education or retirement?
There are some excellent habits that assist us in achieving these goals.
1. Keep a track of your spending – that way you are able decipher between your essential and discretionary monthly expenses and pinpoint areas where you can reduce spending, increase savings or decrease debt
2. Save First- Once you have identified how much you can save, put that money aside. Better still, also separate out all non-discretionary spending (money for bills), the remainder is for you to spend.
3. Pay off your credit card debt- Credit card debt is a millstone around our neck. Interest rates are very high, normally around 20 percent. If you have any additional funds, they should initially be used to repay credit card debt. You won’t receive a return anywhere near 20 percent without significant risk. Once you have paid off your credit card, you will significantly increase your disposable income.
The New Year is a great time to reassess your financial situation. When you do so, go one step further than a vague resolution, create a SMART goal and put a plan in place to achieve it.