Many people look at new year’s resolutions as a good thing. They make vows to get healthy, save more money, spend less money, give up vices or bad habits and more. Do these all sound great to you? Most people would say yes. However, all of the above are bad resolutions. Why do you ask? Because they are all too vague! What exactly is meant by get healthy? Are you resolved to eat healthier? How? What exactly is meant by save more money? How are you going to do it? How much is more? You have to create a specific plan if you want to achieve these goals. Making vague resolutions is setting yourself up for failure. Do these three steps to make concrete financial resolutions or goals.
1) Write a plan.
Write out what your resolution is. That’s the what. Then get very specific as to how you are going to achieve it. What the steps necessary to achieve this goal. For example, say your resolution is to start saving for retirement. Lookup what that entails. What is the first step? You need to know about different types of retirement accounts such as 401(k), 403(b) traditional IRA vs Roth IRA, SEP IRA for those who are self-employed. Learn the advantages and disadvantages, money going into the account pre-tax vs contributing after paying taxes on your income. I would go into the differences but that’s is an entire blog article itself. Then write out how to start the steps to start these accounts. How much you’re allowed to put in etc. You see where I’m going get very specific, write out a detailed plan.
2) Set a date.
For each step in your plan, write a deadline. When are you going to accomplish each task? Writing it out without saying when it should be done is a good way to ensure that it never gets done. Giving each step a deadline will also allow you to avoid getting overwhelmed by the steps and tasks. You’ll be able to complete them in an orderly fashion with less stress. Staying with the example from above, if your first step is to learn the differences between retirement accounts, by what date are going to have that accomplished? Put the deadlines on your calendar as a visual reminder so you ensure they get done. Remember each task accomplished takes you closer to your financial goal.
3)Set a dollar amount.
Every financial resolution should have a specific amount attached to it. You have to have a number that you’re working towards. At what number can you claim success. If you’re resolved to save more money. How much money do you need to save per month, per year? Make it specific. For example, I will save $1,000 this year. Now you have a number. Now you have a concrete endpoint for when you have accomplished the goal. If we stay with the retirement example, a goal with a dollar amount would be: I will contribute 20% of my income. You know how much you make and how much should then be contributed.