At the beginning of the new year, some of us will make resolutions and set goals we want to reach by the end of next year. Financial resolutions will likely be included in many people’s New Year’s commitments. According to fool.com, 66% of Americans plan on making a financial resolution for 2023. With rising inflation and interest rates, it’s no shock that people want to improve or adjust their finances in the coming year. According to the BMO Real Financial Progress Index, 43% of Canadians said their financial resolutions have changed due to inflation.
Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out exactly what resolutions and goals to set, what behavioural habits you may need to change, and how you can stay motivated to stick to and not forget about your resolutions. Especially regarding your finances, you may not know where to start, or where you want to be financially by the end of the year.
Why do New Year's resolutions fail?
Many people have made New Year's resolutions in previous years, but gave up on them throughout the year or didn't even have a plan to reach them in the first place. Last year, only 49% of people who made financial resolutions managed to keep them.
A big reason financial resolutions fail is that people focus more on a big end goal rather than building habits that will help them consistently reach their goals. Sometimes the resolutions are too vague and have no action plan, such as “I want to save money,” or “I want to pay off debt.” You can't just say you want to do something and expect it to happen without figuring out the specifics of the goal and putting in consistent effort. So take time to gather all the information you can, and create a plan that you can begin taking action on immediately.
Here are some more ways you can set yourself up for financial success this year.
Talk to an expert
To get started, there may be some financial behaviours you need to change. You may not be able to spot them right away, especially on your own. It's a good idea to speak with a financial professional, like a Certified Cash Flow Specialist (CCS), who can help you assess your financial situation and behaviour to create an actionable cash flow plan so you can reach your goals. You can also use an app, like Winton, which you can access through a Certified Cash Flow Specialist or your employer. Winton allows you to see how much money you can save towards your goals by providing you with a money found number after submitting all your income and committed expenses.
Don’t have access to Winton? Request access here.
When setting a financial New Year's resolution, you should be able to measure your progress as you go. For instance, if your goal relates to becoming more financially healthy, you could use our financial health score tool to see where you currently stand, and use the tool every so often to see if your score is improving. Or if you want to save for something specific, like a vacation or a new computer, make sure you know how much it's going to cost you and track your progress to saving for it in a dedicated savings account. You may want to set some savings targets by making sure a certain portion of the total cost is saved each month.
Make resolutions you're excited about
Set some financial New Year's resolutions that you're excited about. Having goals like paying off debt and saving a certain amount for emergencies are important and may help you feel less financially stressed, but they aren't really that exciting. Make sure to add some goals where you'll be rewarded once you reach them. For example, saving to go to your favourite artist's concert, renovating your bathroom, or buying a new sectional couch. You’ll be more excited and motivated to reach these types of goals because you'll actually be able to enjoy them.
Make smaller, achievable short-term goals
Your financial New Year's resolutions should be goals you can reach before the end of the year. If you set goals that are out of reach in 12 months, it may cause you to feel discouraged and give up altogether. Say your goal is to buy a new, big sectional couch for your family. This is a good short-term financial goal because sectionals can be expensive to buy on a whim. To start saving, first figure out how much a new sectional is going to cost you. Then if you have a cash flow plan or use Winton, you’ll know how much your monthly money found is (if you don’t, reach out to a financial expert, like a CCS, who can help you). You can put a certain amount of your money found towards your sectional purchase goal. If you’re putting a specific amount towards the goal each month, you’ll know when you can reach your target and make the purchase after X amount of months. This is where it's again important to really take a look at your current financial situation, and ensure that as long as you stick to the plan, your goals will be attainable in 2023.
Remember that achieving financial goals can be difficult, and even seem impossible at times. So look at the bigger picture and then see what small changes you can make to get you where you want to be. It's never too late to start. If you failed to start on January 1st, you can always start later in the month, or even in February or March. Starting late is better than not starting at all. And even if you have some setbacks in your plan, that is no reason to give up. We can't always control things, like unexpected changes in expenses, emergencies or simply human mistakes. But you can always reassess your plan and get back on track.
Are there areas of your financial capability you’d like to improve? Check out our on-demand Financial Capability Series. Topics include:
- Spending and cash flow
- Money and relationships
- Measuring financial health
- Funding education
- Life events
- Saving and investing
- Car loans and leases
- Holiday spending
CacheFlo is a financial education company that builds eLearning and tools to help financial professionals and individuals make behaviour-based changes, which allow them to get more life from their money. We want to make it easier for people to predict the impact of their financial choices before they make them.
About the Certified Cash Flow Specialist (CCS) program
CCS professionals go through enhanced cash flow-based training to develop the skill set to deliver behaviour-based cash flow advice. They start the financial planning process with a cash flow plan to genuinely help their clients get more life from their money.
About the Financial Capability Program (FCP)
The FCP combines quick and practical lessons with tools, including Winton, which helps people make financial changes they can stick to. Users can apply what they've learned to their financial situation, thus bridging the knowing-doing gap. The goal of the FCP is to help people get more life from their money.