Eighty percent of people fail to actually achieve their New Year’s goals every year, according to U.S. News & World Report. It’s not surprising that the number is high — but does it have to be that high? Not where you’re concerned, particularly if you’re making a resolution that involves your money.
Making that financial resolution is “not a one size fits all” task, as some would lead you to believe, says therapist Kristy Archuleta, Ph.D., who is also Associate Professor of Financial Planning, Housing, and Consumer Economics at the University of Georgia. She thinks the key to succeeding is to get to the heart of your financial problems and find a common thread of what is most important to you. Is it safety? Joy? Freedom? Knowing what you’re looking for is key in achieving success. Here are the steps to getting there.
Ask yourself. Archuleta recommends asking yourself these questions: “What are your best hopes? Or, if a miracle occurred what about yourself would tell you that a miracle occurred? What would you be doing or feeling differently that would tell you a miracle occurred?” Take some notes and you should be able to find a common goal. That should get you started.
Identify your values. “Figure out what money means to you,” says Archuleta, “If you don’t know yourself, then it’s difficult to make changes that you may need to make or be motivated to do so.” If you find that safety is of major concern, in 2020 you should focus on your emergency fund. If you value your life after work, it might be time to up your 401(k) contributions in the new year. If you want to live more comfortably, start chipping away at the credit card debt you’ve accrued.
Start small. While these goals are all of great importance, it would do you well to start small and set a goal you can get going immediately, Archuleta recommends. Her suggestions? Merely setting that huge financial goal will help you begin, or finding a login for a retirement account are both great first steps, says Archuleta.
Ask for help. Taking stock of your financial health can be stressful and confusing, so consider reaching out to Accredited Financial Counselor(R), a Financial Financial Coach(R), a financial therapist (Certified Financial Therapist-I), or a Certified Financial Planner(TM), Archuleta suggests. If you’re not ready to talk to a professional, confiding your financial goals in a friend or spouse can help keep you accountable.
Stick with it. Don’t be another number. Once you’ve isolated the steps you want to take, make them as automatic — i.e. automatically moving money from checking to savings every time you get paid — as possible. Then recognize, it’s going to take a lot of commitment, “along with connecting how you feel, behave, and think around money,” says Archuleta. Doing so, though, will “help improve your overall well-being.” What better way to start off the New Year?
With Rebecca Cohen