February 01, 2019 · Education

Sticking to Your Financial New Year Resolutions

Well, we made it to 2019, we made it through the holidays!

We made it through Thanksgiving turkey, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Travel Tuesday and we made it through gift buying, wrapping and opening (always my favorite part).

We made it through “some assembly required and batteries not included,” the Christmas ham and all the other fixings of the feast. We made it through the week of oddly named bowl games and food hangovers from leftovers galore.

We wrapped up 2018 with cork popping parties, kisses for our sweethearts and a solid conviction that 2019 would be the year our list of resolutions would propel us to the next level of life. After weeks of overeating and overspending, January is met with conviction and vitality. We are going to hit the gym, spend less and save more.

Then, February hits us in the chops. The vim and vigor of the new year starts to fade and we find it difficult to stay the resolution path. Maybe we go to the gym three days a week instead of five, or we decide it is okay to splurge on Amazon even though we aren’t quite to our savings goal.

However it may look in your life, for many of us February is the start of our annual slide into self-disappointment. We find that we aren’t able to maintain our resolution led lifestyle, which is why I am here with my handy dandy list to help you realize your power over negative thoughts and get back on the path of resolution joy.

So here we go:

Don’t Be Driven by Your Past. It doesn’t matter how often in the past you have made and ditched resolutions. Keep nudging in the direction you want to go and eventually you will become a saver, financially confident or a hiker (I like hiking). We must be patient and forgiving of ourselves when it comes to changing or adding behavior. If the goal seems too big right now, make it smaller.

For example, let’s say you set a goal to save 6 months of living expenses in your savings account. As you begin to work towards this, you realize that you may have overlooked the practicality of your goal. Rather than quit, decrease your goal. If you are looking for a good place to start, studies suggest that 50% of us do not have $2,000 in savings.

Give Deeper Meaning to the Goal by Making It Part of Your Identity. Instead of setting a goal of, “I want to save $2,000 by the end of the year,” adjust the goal to say, “I want to be a saver by putting (a set amount of) money aside from each paycheck for emergencies.” Commit to the saver identity by setting up an auto deposit into a savings account from each paycheck. If you are hoping to have $2,000 in savings by the end of the year, you will need to put away roughly $84 a pay period, if you get paid twice a month. If you find this goal isn’t attainable, extend the time of the goal. It may take longer to save $2,000 but by the end of the year you will be someone who saves.

Seek Motivating and Positive Messages. In 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the University of Texas Austin graduating class, delivering a memorable speech about the 10 Life Lessons he learned as a Navy Seal. I find his speech to be one of the best motivational speeches I have heard, and I listen to it regularly when I need to fill my motivation tank. I encourage all my clients to seek motivational messages and I will not allow them to beat themselves up for being imperfect and human. Regularly listening, watching or reading motivational material will remind you that you can get back on the beam when you fall off and help you be drawn into the future with anticipation.

Trust Others to Help You and Commit to Meet With Them Regularly. Admiral McRaven hits the nail on the head when he says: “It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.” Many goal achievement studies show that people with trusted accountability partners have a greater chance of meeting specific goals then those people flying solo. Studies conducted by The American Standard of Training and Development have shown that people who meet and discuss their goals with an accountability partner could boost their success rates by 95%. That means if you tell someone you trust you want to become a saver and commit to meeting that person to evaluate your progress on a regular basis, you are increasing your chances of meeting your goal.

So there you go, the four pearls of wisdom you can use to get back on the beam. Be patient with yourself, identify with your goal (because anyone can be a saver), find your Admiral McRaven to fill your motivation tank and seek a trusted advisor to help you.


More Than Half of Americans Have Less Than $1,000 in Savings in 2017

Most Americans Don’t Have Enough Savings to Cover a $1K Emergency

Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017 – May 2018