It is now almost a quarter of the way through 2014 and you may find that your financial resolutions are starting to fall behind. But, even if you have become side-tracked, it doesn’t mean you should give up.
It is important to remember that you should have financial goals all year round, not just at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Making new habits stick can often be the source of the problem for financial goals. It has been said that it takes 21 days for new habits to stick; however, according to the University College London, “the point of automaticity to form a habit ranged from 18 to 254 days.” They also established that the average time to form a habit was 66 days.
So whether you want to pay off credit cards, pay off your mortgage or save for a holiday, what can you do to boost motivation and get back on track with your financial resolutions?
Identify the problems: If you have been putting in an effort since January 1st, but are still not seeing the results you want, you may need to revisit your strategy and look at why you are not achieving your goals.
Pay special attention to your small, regular expenses as they could be bringing you down. Take a look at the expenses below to see how much they could be costing you each year:
• Coffee before work ($5 every work day): $100 a month
• Takeaway lunch at work ($10 every work day): $200 a month
• ATM fees ($2.50 twice a week): $20 a month
It may not seem like much, but just these three expenses will cost you an extra $3,840 a year.
Set mini goals: Do you feel like you have to set a New Year resolution because it is expected? This could be one of the reasons why so many resolutions fail – people are caught up in the hype of creating goals without actually thinking about if the goal is achievable and how they are going to reach it.
Setting one big goal, such as paying off all credit cards, can seem a bit overwhelming and may make the goal harder to achieve. However, if you set a smaller goal every couple of months to pay off one credit card at a time, it may make your resolutions less daunting.
Track your progress: How can you know if you are getting closer to your financial goals if you are not tracking them? There are plenty of easy-to-use online tools that can help you budget, track your spending and manage your progress.
The TrackMySpend app from MoneySmart allows you to record and track your personal spending from wherever you are. This is a great tool to uncover all of the small expenses you may forget about. Click here to get the app.
There are also a range of State Custodians online finance calculators where you can create a budget and also establish a plan to reach your savings target.
Reward yourself: Just like dieting, if you go cold turkey on a strict budget, the chances of your splurging on a shopping spree could be much higher. Instead, try introducing smaller changes slowly so your lifestyle isn’t flipped upside down completely. Also, don’t forget to reward yourself. If you reach a mini goal, such as paying off a credit card, go have a coffee or a lunch out. This may help keep you motivated to keep working hard.