Another new year, another chance for well-meaning resolutions to start off on a high and end. But unlike not losing those last five pounds, missing the financial goals you expect in 2018 could cost you dearly for years to come.
Generally, achievable goals follow the SMART approach: they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. But that doesn’t mean that achievable goals are all easy. A recent study indicates that some financial goals that meet these criteria can remain difficult for those striving to achieve them.
Here are some financial resolutions from 2017 that proved to be the most difficult to achieve, with completion rates reported, according to the New Year Monetary Report 2018.
Americans who intended to stick to a monthly budget: 52% achieved
Those who plan to save for an emergency fund: 42% achieved
Those who are planning to save for a down payment: 28% achieved
“Setting big goals is admirable, but if they’re too far removed from your current financial situation, you could set yourself up for disappointment,” says Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert for NerdWallet. “You can make them more achievable by breaking down the bigger goals into smaller goals. “
Prepare for success
Achieving any of these three financial goals can take you one step closer to personal financial security. But as with any resolution, the devil is in the details. Simply saying that you are going to do something is not enough; you need to create a roadmap and develop lasting habits that will propel you towards the desired result.
“Just saying that you are going to do something is not enough.“
“If you want to save for a down payment next year but don’t currently have a savings account, your goal might be to open a savings account and put in 3% of your take-home pay each. months, ”Palmer said. said. Likewise, she adds, if your goal is to stay on a budget, outline the small steps it will take to get you there.
Stick to a monthly budget
Staying on a budget should be on everyone’s to-do list, especially if you have bigger financial goals in sight. Build your budget is the easy part, but sticking to it is creating and maintaining good habits.
Start: Create your budget with your personal priorities and long-term goals in mind. Wanting to set aside 50% of your income for needs, 30% for wants, and 20% for debt and savings is a good place to start.
Create good habits: Commit to tracking your spending daily and create a permanent weekly record with yourself to make sure you’re on the right track.
Make it last: Each month, sit back and review your progress. Make adjustments as needed. As an added incentive, plan a small reward every few months for sticking to your plan – an extra meal or movie tickets, for example.
Save for an emergency fund
Ideally, you’ll have three to six months of emergency living expenses someday, but if you start from scratch, every little bit counts.
Start: If you have nothing left, start small; aim for $ 500 as your first mini-goal. Once there, go up to $ 1,000 and continue in this manner until you have set aside a month of living expenses.
Create good habits: Automate your emergency fund by having part of your paycheck deposited directly into a separate savings account. Remember, you want this money to be easily accessible in an emergency, so a traditional or online high interest savings account is a good choice.
Make it last: Your purpose of the emergency fund should be a moving target, and six months of living expenses is ambitious. Once you’ve racked up a single month, focus on paying off any high-interest debt or getting closer to your retirement goals before focusing again on saving for the next month’s expenses.
Save for a down payment
A down payment can take years to accumulate, so set realistic expectations and use your long-term vision to achieve that goal.
Start: Determine a realistic goal down payment amount, taking into account both your expected budget and the type of mortgage you will be using. A home accessibility calculator can help you do the math.
Create good habits: As with any savings goal, automating it will make it easier for you to stick to it, so automatically reserve a portion of your paycheck and be flexible enough to adjust that amount as your income grows. income or expenses.
Make it last: Knowing your total savings goal and how much you plan to put aside each month, figure out how many months it should take. Mark each successful savings month on a calendar. This little action can give a sense of accomplishment and give you a boost to keep going.