I’ve always had a thing for resolutions. Actually, that’s not true; it’s really more of an obsession than a “thing.” My favorite part of New Year’s is not only taking the time to reflect and establish new resolutions for myself but also asking friends, family and coworkers (basically anyone that will talk to me) what resolutions they have set for the coming year. I always find it fascinating to hear what other people are setting out to accomplish, but am often disappointed when all I receive are the typical responses: lose weight, spend more time with family, get organized, read more, travel, etc. Now don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with these resolutions; one of my personal resolutions for 2017 is in fact to read more. I guess my frustration is that these answers are, for lack of a better word, fluffy. For some reason I expect everyone to spill their guts to me by revealing extremely deep and meaningful resolutions.
Personally, I make resolutions for everything. My career, personal life, social life, spiritual life, physical health, mental health…I won’t bore you with the rest but trust me, the list is real and never ending. I am constantly envisioning where I want to be and how I am going to get there. Obviously, our priorities shift depending on the season of life we are currently in – for me, that shift took place two years ago when I got engaged. Suddenly all my resolutions fell wayside and new financial goals consumed my every thought. Before this point, it has never occurred to me to add financial goals to my resolution list. The second I realized I needed money to pay for a wedding – tunnel vision set in. It seems like such a no-brainer for financial goals to be a part of everyone’s annual resolutions. However, this is something I had completely overlooked for years.
What are some financial goals you want to accomplish this next year? Buying a car, taking your family on vacation to Disney World, starting a college fund for your child or maybe you are finally ready to build that thousand dollar emergency fund. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to establish these financial resolutions! There is just one catch here; unlike “fluffy” resolutions, your financial resolutions are going to require you to take an additional step – create a detailed plan to achieve your resolution successfully. What I mean by this is rather than just speak a general decision into the world, make a strategy to ensure you follow through and succeed. If your goal is to save a thousand dollar emergency fund you first need to decide how much time you want to allow yourself to reach this goal. If you give yourself ten months, then from January to October you will need to save $100 a month. Bing – Bang – Boom – resolution accomplished! I know it is not always that easy or cut and dry but, you get the idea.
Another important part of setting financial resolutions is to establish both short-term and long-term goals and here’s why. Long-term goals are just that, long-term. It is very easy to get discouraged when you work toward something and still see no end in sight. Long-term goals can seem so far away that you get distracted and move on to something else instead of sticking with them. Setting short-term financial goals will help you feel a sense of accomplishment, while also keeping you on track to achieve your long-term goals. An excellent example of this is credit card debt. Your long-term goal would be to pay off all of your credit card debt – talk about a bear of a resolution. Let’s say you have three credit cards to pay off; make your short-term goal to pay off one of the three cards. When you finish paying off the one, you will have reached one of your short-term goals, which is ultimately helping you achieve your long-term goal.
Even if financial goals are not at the top of your current priority list, I want to encourage you to take time and set thoughtful and intentional financial resolutions and to then follow up on your resolutions with a detailed plan to conquer. What do you have to lose?