Written By Kelley Holland
If you made New Year’s money resolutions, you’ve got lots of company. In fact, some 16 million Americans conducted Google searches for money-related terms like “spend less” or “save more” in 2017, according to a tally of terms associated with resolutions by iQuanti, a digital marketing company. But resolutions are just the start when people try to make changes: most can manage a few weeks on the straight and narrow, but by six months into the year, fewer than half of resolution-makers are sticking to them, according to a study from the University of Scranton.
How can you beat the odds? These five moves can help.
1. Make it personal. If you resolve to brown-bag lunch, you’ll be more motivated to change if that change helps you reach a goal that’s really important to you personally. Think about it. Would you stick to making your own turkey sandwich because you think you should, or because it saves you $20 every week to put toward a year-end beach vacation?
2. Talk it up. Is it written somewhere that you have to struggle alone to try and reach a lofty goal? I didn’t think so. Tell a friend, tell your sister, tell a co-worker what you want to accomplish – and for all you know, you won’t just have someone encouraging you and keeping you accountable, you may even start reaching for the same goal together. No less than the American Psychological Association endorses the buddy system for resolutions.
3. Size matters. If you have never kept track of your spending before, or never tried to save in an organized way, steer clear of resolutions like “I’ll put away $20,000 in 2018.” Give yourself manageable, step-by-step goals – plan to transfer $100 of every paycheck to savings the minute you get it – and you’ll see the savings mount up. Better yet, you can reward yourself (in a non-spending way) every time you hit a self-defined money milestone.
4. Go easy on yourself. We tell our kids that no one’s perfect – why should we have to be? A little slip-up doesn’t mean your goal is worthless or impossible. It just means you made a little mistake. Pick yourself up, look at what got you off track, try to steer clear of similar situations in the future, and keep going.
5. Keep track. This goes hand in hand with being kind to yourself. A study by Fidelity found that when we track our progress toward goals, we wind up noticing our progress more often. That helps us stay motivated to sustain the changes we want.
Changing behavior is tough, no question. But you can do it!