How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Did you make a New Year’s resolution two weeks ago to improve your personal finances and already give up?   If so, don’t despair. There is a better way to make resolutions…take the time to prepare properly.


Nike slogan aside, words like “just do it” rarely motivate people to change. Why? Change does not begin with action.  Rather, it requires awareness of a better way to live, a firm commitment to make changes, and a plan of action.


What to do?


Step #1: List Your Obstacles- For example, what are your barriers to saving?  Is it high debt, lack of automatic savings opportunities, overspending, or uncertainty about where to put your money?  Ways to overcome these obstacles might be attending a company employee benefit seminar or requesting written information about savings plan options.

Step #2- Set a (New) Start Date- Pick a date carefully to begin changing behavior to reach a goal. This will prevent both premature action and prolonged procrastination. If you are truly ready for action, choose a date within the next month.

Step #3- Go Public with Your Commitment to Change- Tell others about your plans. This increases accountability because others are “looking over your shoulder.”  Fear of public failure can be a powerful motivator to stay on track. 

Step #4- Monitor Your Progress– Develop habits or systems (e.g., automatic 401(k) deposits) to “work your plan,” celebrate progress points (e.g., $500 of savings) and make adjustments, as needed, if progress is slower than expected.

It is not too late to set well-planned resolutions to improve your life in 2018 and take action to implement them. For additional personal finance information from Rutgers Cooperative Extension, visit our Personal Finance Web site.

When there is a will to change personal behavior, people find a way to do so: “where attention goes, energy flows, and results show.”  Stated another way, what we think about, we bring about.  There is still plenty of time to improve your personal finances in 2018. Develop a few realistic resolutions (goals) and a plan of action to achieve them.

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