Welcome to the 10th Smart Money Debate at ReadyForZero! To see the other side of this debate, read Andrea’s post: Why You Should Not Make a New Year’s Resolution. And then let us know which argument was more convincing!
This is a guest post by Cait Flanders, who created BlondeOnABudget.com, which is in her words “a twenty-something’s journey from being a maxed out, overindulging idiot to becoming a balanced and financially sound woman.” You can follow her on Twitter @blondeonabudget.
As another year comes to an end, it’s only natural to reflect on what it meant to you. Maybe you finally finished school and started a new job. You could have focused on paying down debt or saving up for something big. Or maybe 2012 was the year you finally saved enough money to travel somewhere new, allowing you to cross an item off your bucket list at the same time.
Whatever 2012 brought you, I can tell you it probably didn’t happen by pure luck. You finished school, because you submitted all of your assignments and tests. You paid down debt, by making financial sacrifices elsewhere. And you went on that amazing vacation, because you made it a priority to work hard and save every extra penny. (Taking on that second job helped, too)
This is also how all New Year’s Resolutions are started – by imagining something you want and making it a priority. Every year, 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. Of them, 34% are often money-related. And while apparently only 8% of Americans are successful in keeping their resolutions, there’s a lot to learn from that percentage of people.
As someone who was finally successful in achieving a resolution this year, I can tell you that it was harder to decide on the resolution than it was to keep it – that’s because I finally understood how to make a New Year’s Resolution that could be kept, which made deciding on only one seem impossible. Today, I’m going to tell you why (and how) you should absolutely make a New Year’s Resolution for 2013.
Get Excited About Your New Year’s Resolution
January 1st marks the beginning of a calendar year, which means a fresh start with a new budget. (Am I the only one who loves making budgets?) A new year gives you the chance to rethink your strategies from the year before and move in a better direction. When trying to choose a resolution for 2013, pick something that you get excited just thinking about.
For example, being smarter with money has been the #3 New Year’s Resolution for many, many years. And it’s great if that’s yours! But try to imagine what it would feel like to have no debt repayments to make on payday, or envision seeing X amount of money in your savings account, and get excited about it!
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Give Your New Year’s Resolution a Date
“This year, I’m going to pay off my credit card debt.” That’s a great resolution (it was mine this year), for both your wallet and your financial future, but there’s no date attached to it. Saying you’ll do something “this year” gives you the opportunity to procrastinate until December 31st, so think about a date that you could probably accomplish this goal by. Now add 30 days to the date you chose.
If you make your goal date too difficult, you run the risk of “failing” and quitting altogether. But choosing a goal date that is easily attainable gives you a little more flexibility. This year, I resolved to pay off my credit card debt by August 31st. Apparently that was too easy, because I paid it off on April 27th.
Make Mini Goals
Let’s say you’ve resolved to save $5,000 by July 1st. You’ve come up with a specific resolution, but you still need to develop an action plan for how you’re going to make it happen – this is where mini goal setting comes in. Using this example, you could consider two things: first, how many months you have to work with (6) and second, how you can get extra money to save more sooner.
For any money-related resolutions, you could be in luck if Uncle Sam decides to give you any of your money back. But you shouldn’t rely on any type of tax benefits, like that, to help with your financial goals. Instead, knowing you need to save $833.33 per month (x 6 months = $5,000), you could resolve to try and save $1,000 per month and do whatever it takes to make that happen. At the end of each month, move forward after any “failures,” otherwise celebrate your successes!
You can resolve to lose weight, exercise more, spend less or floss regularly, but those are all just words – empty claims that sound good but have no measure of success. However, there is a reason each of those have become the most popular New Year’s Resolutions to make: we want to believe that we are capable of making positive changes in our lives. And I know that you can.
My only question now is: why wait until the New Year? Come up with a resolution and start it today!
To see the other side of this debate, read Andrea’s post: Why You Should Not Make a New Year’s Resolution. And then let us know which argument was more convincing!
Image by danielmoyle