It’s that time of year again: when people get motivation from the start of a new year and embark on hopes and wishes for the next year in the form of new year’s resolutions. However, these resolutions very seldom stick through the end of the year and it is actually estimated that by the end of January most people have given up on their goals for the new year.
So, what can you do to make your resolutions stick?
- First, choose something you really want, something that really matters to you and it’s likely to motivate you to stick to it. In the case of our family saving for the college education of our children is very important. I don’t have any expectations for my children but I have HOPE. We also want to make sure that we are prepared to help them achieve their dreams. So, for this year our resolution is to be more disciplined about putting money away in their 529 plans.
- Base your resolutions on things you are already doing, don’t expect drastic changes to take hold for a full year. We have noticed that automatic savings work really well for us. The money is deducted first thing from my husband’s paycheck and it only takes a little adjustment in our budget initially and then we don’t “feel” it anymore. Therefore, we will do the same to put money away in their 529 plans.
- Make it baby steps. Don’t try to do to too much or you will feel overwhelmed. If in the past you have failed in keeping your resolutions, consider choosing just one this year. Limit yourself to one thing and you are more likely to achieve it. This is our only resolution this year. There are many other things I will like to accomplish this year: lose baby weight, save for the down payment on a car. But right now, saving for our children’s college education is what I want to focus on. I will work on the other things I want to do too but this is my priority.
- Create an action plan. Get specific. Don’t say I will pay off debt this year, say I will pay $XX in debt this year. Create a road to get you there. Commit $xx.xx amount of money every month for this goal. Set a specific strategy to achieve what you have set out to do. Up until now, we have been putting money away sporadically, dependent upon any mileage reimbursements my husband gets from work. This year, we will send $50 a month per child to their 529 in addition to any mileage reimbursements.
- If you fail, pick yourself up and try again. Set sight on the road not the destination. Focus on the process not the ending result. Yes, it is very important to have a specific goal in mind but more success is achieved if you change your behaviour or attitude. What is the point of paying off $2,000 in debt this year, if next year you’ll engage in the same destructive behaviour that got you in trouble in the first place?
- Write it down somewhere so you can keep track or revisit later in the year. It will help you keep accountable.
Do you set resolutions for yourself? are they more health related (lose weight), relationship related (spend more quality time with your family) or maybe more on the financial side (save more or spend less)? If you do, don’t give up on them just because you failed once, twice or more. It’s not all about the finish line, it’s about the race.