‘Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions. This is the time of year when you tell yourself you’ll finally meal prep every lunch. You’ll hit up the gym on a regular basis and try meditating. Hell, you’ll not only bullet journal, but you’ll dish out advice on how to do it. Spending your hard-earned dollars on $5 lattes, lavish brunches, and one-too-many jumpsuits — that’s so 2018.
Except there’s only one problem. All those New Years’ money resolutions you’re so set on? You promised yourself you’d tackle them last year (and the year before that). So, what’s the trick to really getting those resolutions to stick? How do you make sure they’re not empty promises? Ahead, we asked some financial experts, writers, and coaches for their best tips on making sure you stick to your budget resolutions. Here’s what they had to say:
Make your action plan actionable
“People often fail to make their financial resolutions actionable. They might shoot for something big on January 1, like paying off all their debt by the end of the year or saving up $5,000 this year, but then they don’t focus on how to take small steps each week (or month) to ensure that goal becomes a reality.
One of the best ways to stick to your financial resolution is to make it as actionable as possible. For example, if you know you want to build up your emergency fund to $4,500, don’t just focus on that big dollar amount. Instead think about how that means saving $375 a month. Or get even more micro, and save $12.50 a day.”
Erin Lowry, author, Broke Millennial
Loop in your friends for the right support
“We don’t talk about money with our friends and family. And one of the many repercussions of not talking about our financial goals with the people we are closest with — who love us most — is that they can’t support us in those goals. They only want what’s best for us, but often sabotage us without even knowing. For example, if your best friend knew how relieved you’d be to pay off your credit card debt or to finally be able to go on a vacation, they wouldn’t encourage you to buy another round of drinks #yolo, or say “That sweater looks so great on you. You need to have it!”
Bring your closest friends and family in on your New Year’s money goals so they can support you. If it feels daunting to have those conversations, start with the easiest one first — brainstorm ways they can support you in your goals.”
Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, financial coach and founder, The Fiscal Femme
Before you start those savings goals, tackle your debt
“The best thing you can do when setting financial resolutions is to take things one step at a time. Rather than trying to pay off the credit card balance, student loans, and save up for that new car all at once, do one thing at a time. I recommend people start by paying off as much of their consumer and student loan debt first, before even starting to think about saving for larger purchases. I personally prefer the debt snowball approach to paying off debt, where you pay off the debt with the smallest balance first, while making the minimum monthly payment on larger loans. Once that smallest debt is fully paid off, you roll the rest of your debt payment amount into the next largest debt. Or, you can pay off the loans that have the highest interest rates first.
Whichever you choose, start by making debt repayment a priority. By doing so, you’ve then cleared up some of your monthly income, which you can then use towards other financial goals, like saving for a down-payment on a home, upgrading that beater you’ve been driving, or simply treating yourself to some much-needed R&R in Jamaica. Bottom line is, don’t think you’re going to be able to go ham on your finances all at once. Tackle one thing at a time, and make sure you’re following a structured plan, and staying accountable to it.”
Octavia Ramirez, founder, Paper & Coin