Planning for Successful Financial Resolutions in the New Year

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As the year winds to a close, you may be considering setting new goals or resolutions for the new year. Our friend, Mark Foster from CCOA Cares shares his tips for success.
Set goals. The New Year is coming up fast and resolutions aren’t far behind. If you’re one of those who doesn’t like the word “resolutions” (thinking that they’re made to be broken), go with “goals” instead. Everyone should have personal goals. People often set goals for their health and fitness, vacations, and more. One important thing to do, of course, is to set financial goals for 2017.
Write it down. Numerous research studies have repeatedly shown that people who write down their goals are far more likely to achieve them than people who merely have hopes and dreams in their heads. So I encourage you to write your goals down where you can see them on a regular basis. Keep it simple – use an index card or a sticky note. A three-ring binder filled with papers can be too bulky, complex and overwhelming.
Be specific. “I want to have more money saved” is a good start, but too vague to stop there. “To have $1,000 saved in an emergency fund before the end of the year” is a good, specific goal that you can easily measure.
Rank your goals. All goals are not equal, so be sure to rank your goals in order of importance. “To have $1,000 saved in an emergency fund” should be a higher priority than “To buy a new $275 video game console,” for example. A good rule of thumb is to be sure to put your needs ahead of your wants.
Enlist the help of a friend. Ask a trusted friend to be part cheerleader, part accountability partner to check in with you periodically to see how you’re doing on your goals. Having that encouragement and accountability can help us to be more proactive and, consequently, more successful.
Do an annual review. At the end of 2017, review your goals and progress. Don’t kick yourself if you had great success but didn’t achieve all of your goals. Celebrate the success that you had. Once a few years ago, I had achieved eight out of 10 goals; one goal was in progress and another goal I hadn’t been able to get started on. At first, I started to kick myself for falling short of 100% success. But then I stopped and tried to take a more objective view of the situation and I realized that I had great success overall. If I hadn’t set goals, wrote them down and proactively worked on achieving them, then I probably would have achieved little or nothing. So completing eight out of 10 was a very successful year. Be sure to take it easy on yourself and celebrate your successes as well!
Find a Financial Advocate you can trust. If you are in over your head financially and struggling to make ends meet, consider finding a nonprofit credit counseling agency near you for a financial plan.
About the author

Mark Foster is Director of Education with Credit Counseling of Arkansas (CCOA), a member agency of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.