45 New Year’s Resolutions For Your Finances

New Year's Resolutions For Your Finances

When setting New Year’s resolutions it’s important to be specific and clear. Aim to make S.M.A.R.T. goals, which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timley.

For example, a goal like “I want to save more” isn’t very specific or measurable. But “I want to have $5,000 saved by the end of the year” is great. You can easily make a plan of action and it’s clear if you met that goal or not. 

And don’t think of not meeting a goal as a failure. You’ll gain important information that you can use to help you meet the goal next time. 

Here are some new year’s resolutions for your finances that will help you end this year richer than you started:

Resolution: Track Your Spending

Knowing where your money goes can make a big difference in your financial decisions. It is very easy to get into mindless spending habits, and tracking expenses can help you nix those habits. But tracking your spending can feel overwhelming if you’ve never done it before. Here are some strategies for adopting this habit:

  1. Track like your grandparents did: with a pencil and paper. Just jotting down all of your purchases for a specific period of time can be enlightening and help you end financial mindlessness.
  2. Use a spreadsheet to keep track. If you have some time to devote to tracking, using a spreadsheet (like this one created by contributor Emily Guy Birken) can give you a long-term, living document. You can use this spreadsheet over time to budget and better understand your financial life.
  3. Use a tracking app or software. There are a number of apps available that will do the expense tracking for you. These include Mint, Empower, and Betterment, among many others. This kind of technology will track and categorize your expenses for you, allowing you to draw conclusions from the information without having to track it yourself. 

See Also: The Best Personal Finance Budget Software with Apps

Resolution: Save More

Increasing your savings is a common financial goal, and it is certainly a good place to put your goal-setting energy. But without a specific savings goal and strategy in place, the vague resolution to “save more” won’t help. Here are several specific savings goals to adopt, as well as the strategies for reaching your goals:

The specific savings goal: A fully funded emergency fund

How to get there: 

  1. Open a separate savings account to stash your emergency fund. (It’s harder to spend money if it’s not sitting in your checking account!)
  2. Set up an automatic contribution of $X per month or week.
  3. Put at least half of every windfall you receive this year into your emergency fund.
  4. Go on a spending ban where you refrain from spending any money for a week (or a month!) and put your savings into the emergency fund.
  5. Go old school with a coin jar. Random coins don’t feel like real money, but they can add up quickly when they’re rubbing shoulders with a jar full of other coins.
  6. Adopt an identity-based habit around savings. According to habits expert James Clear, deciding what sort of person you want to be can help you establish the habits you need to become that sort of person. For instance, you might decide to be the sort of person who puts some money into savings every week–no matter how small the deposit. Each week, as you deposit something into savings, you build the habit and the identity as a saver, until it becomes automatic. 

See also: Budgeting for Unexpected Expenses

The specific savings goal: Targeted savings accounts

How to get there:

  1. Determine your savings needs and wants.
    • Your savings needs might include irregular expenses such as insurance or tax bills, or inevitable but unpredictable expenses, such as car repair or health care spending.
    • Your savings wants might include various goals like a vacation, anew laptop, real estate, graduate degree, etc.
  2. Create separate, goal-based savings accounts for each of your specific savings needs and wants.
  3. Set up regular, automatic contributions to these targeted savings accounts.

The specific savings goal: Increase your retirement contributions

How to get there:

If you have access to a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan, you, ideally, would be maxing out your contributions to meet the IRS annual limit. But setting aside that much money can be a lofty goal for many workers. And what if you are self-employed and don’t have access to a workplace retirement account? Here are some ways to make the most of your workplace retirement contributions even if you can’t afford to max it out:

  1. Increase your workplace retirement plan contributions to get the company match. If you don’t get the full company match, you’re turning down free money.
  2. Once you’ve reached that company match, increase your workplace retirement plan contribution percentage by 1%. Schedule another 1% for 3-6 months down the road.
  3. If you’re self-employed, open up a Solo 401(k) and start an automatic contribution. 

If you’ve already maxed out your workplace retirement contributions, or you would prefer to have more control over your asset allocation, there are some other ways to increase your retirement contributions:

  1. Open up a Roth IRA and start contributing to your retirement outside of your work plan.
  2. Create an automatic contribution of x amount per month/week to your new Roth IRA.
  3. Open up a taxable brokerage account and start investing for financial freedom.

See also: I Chose the Solo (Individual) 401K for My Small Business

The specific savings goal: Save for future educational or medical expenses

How to get there:

  1. Open up a 529 college savings plan and start contributing $X amount per month/week automatically.
  2. Open up a Flexible Savings Account or Health Savings Account (if eligible) and start contributing $X amount per month/week automatically.

Related: HSA vs FSA: Which is Better? [Comparison Chart Included]

Resolution: Reduce Debt

Taming your debt can not only help you improve your financial health, but it can also reduce your stress. But debt can feel like a many-headed beast that is impossible to slay. That’s why it’s important to have a solid debt-payoff strategy to conquer this resolution:

  1. Stop adding to your debt. Start carrying cash, and remove your credit card information from online retailers.
  2. Create a master list of all your debts. Check your credit report to ensure you have everything.
  3. Create a specific plan to systematically pay off your debts. There are two main options for systematic debt payoff:
    • The debt snowball has you send as much as you can to your lowest balance debt while paying the minimum on everything else. Once the lowest balance is paid off, you send that amount, plus the minimum, to the next lowest balance, until you have paid off all your debts.
    • The debt avalanche has you send as much as you can to the debt with the highest interest rate while paying the minimum on everything else. Once the balance with the highest interest rate is paid off, send that payment to the balance with the next highest interest, until you have paid off all your debts.
  4. Start contributing $X amount per month/week automatically to pay off your debts.
  5. Call your creditors to ask about reducing your interest rates.
  6. Consider using a 0% balance transfer credit card to help you pay off your debts faster.
  7. Consider using a peer lending site to help you consolidate your debts and pay them off faster.

Resolution: Spend More Wisely

While spending money is (pretty much) unavoidable, it’s always possible to make better spending decisions. Here are some strategies for improving your spending choices:

  1. Develop a zero-based budget to ensure that each of your dollars has a home. This kind of budget gives every dollar a “home,” so you know ahead of time what all of your income will do for you. 
  2. Create a simple, cash-only budget for the one or two trouble areas you struggle with. For instance, if you consistently overspend on dining out, set a limit on what you may spend each month and take out that amount in cash. Once you’ve reached the end of your cash, you know to eat at home for the rest of the month.
  3. If you’ve already created an account with Empower to track your spending more closely, you can also use their budgeting and goals tools.
  4. Plan out your upcoming major purchases and set aside time to research the best prices and the best time to buy.
  5. Make a list each time you go to the grocery store.
  6. Go through all of your bills and call the service providers to see if you can reduce your expenses.
  7. Make a list of the things you really want to spend your hard earned money on. Then slash expenses everywhere else.
  8. Open a reward checking account to earn cash back for your spending.
  9. Apply for a cash back credit card to earn cash back on your spending.
  10. Set up automatic bill payment on all your bills so that you don’t miss a payment.
  11. Spend some money on a will and proper term life insurance.
  12. Setup automatic contributions to your favorite charities.

See also: You Need a Budget Review

Resolution: Make More

Increasing income is an excellent way to meet your financial goals. And it’s not as difficult as you might think to end this year with a higher income than you started with. Here’s how: 

  1. Ask your employer for a raise. It may be nerve-wracking to advocate for yourself, but you could be leaving money on the table if you don’t.
  2. If you don’t feel like your employer values you, start looking for a higher paying job. Meet with a recruiter, hit up your network, and start researching better positions.  
  3. Get a part-time job on the nights or weekends. It’s all about the hustle, baby!
  4. Can you write, code, draw, edit, design, or type? Then you can find a freelance job to do on the side. 
  5. Start a side-business and grow it using your nights and weekends.
  6. Make Marie Kondo proud: Sell or give away x number of unused items per week/month from your home. You’ll get a cleaner home and a fatter bank account.

See also: 10 Best Paying Freelance Jobs

Making Your Financial Changes Permanent

It feels great to make resolutions, but following through is not nearly as easy or satisfying. Committing to any one of these 45 financial new year’s resolutions is only the first step to reaching your money goals. After that you need to make the change a permanent part of your life.

There are a number of ways to make your changes permanent:

  • Go slow. Don’t try all 45 resolutions at once.
  • Enjoy the process. Financial outcomes take time to bear fruit. So if you can find a way to enjoy expense tracking, saving more, spending less, or working a side hustle, you can focus on the process rather than the result.
  • Celebrate small wins. Taking time to recognize your progress can help you stay on track.
  • Make resolutions with a buddy. Accountability and encouragement can do wonders to make a new change a permanent one.
  • Forgive yourself for slip-ups. Making a mistake is almost inevitable, but how you react to one can determine whether it’s merely a blip or the beginning of the end of your financial goal. Being kind to yourself when you make a mistake can help you get back on track afterward.

The Bottom Line

New Year’s resolutions for your finances can help you reach your goals and reduce your stress. Pick the financial goals that mean most to you and plan your strategy for meeting them. And don’t forget to write down these goals so you can look back on them next year and feel proud of what you’ve accomplished.

Have you ever made a new year’s resolution for your finances? What helped you accomplish it? Are there any money resolutions we’ve missed? Tell us about it in the comments!

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  1. Wow! That is a huge list! Hopefully people will only pick one or two to concentrate on. I almost feel overwhelmed reading it. 🙂

    Great list though. My New Year’s Resolution is to grow the side business this year and be more consistent as a blogger.

  2. We make many purchases like that too, Natalia. My wife is good at keeping receipts and making returns. She also does a good job of sorting through things to sell or give away. But I know what you mean…if you just didn’t buy the stuff in the first place…

  3. Avatar Natalia Payroll says:

    My 2011 financial new year’s resolution is to buy only the things that I will need. I have spent so much this year for some stuff which turned out to be a waste. 🙁

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