Tips for Keeping New Year's Financial Resolutions
In only two months, most Ohioans who started 2019 with plans of bettering their personal finances have already fallen off track.
An Ohio Credit Union League 2019 consumer survey found 69 percent of respondents said their New Year’s resolution was to get on a budget, Eaton Family Credit Union CEO Mike Losneck said.
“This statistic isn’t surprising,” Losneck said. “Each year, we see many of our Members look at their financial situations and plan to make big changes in the new year.”
Statista, a platform providing statistical data on a variety of topics, polled 2,000 people about their New Year’s resolutions in early January. The survey found financial goals were the fourth most-popular resolution, falling just behind dieting, exercising and losing weight.
Like other annual resolutions, Losneck said, most consumers don’t meet their goals.
According to research commissioned by GuideVine, a service that matches people with financial advisers, 70 percent of Americans with a budget struggle to stick to it.
Losneck said the Ohio Credit Union League’s survey found, even when someone makes a budget as part of their New Year’s financial resolution, it usually doesn’t help to make things easier to stay on track.
The Ohio Credit Union League survey found 79 percent of Ohioans who made incremental improvements toward keeping their resolutions each year fall short in keeping them. Another 14 percent have never kept a New Year’s resolution.
The statistics in Ohio are similar to our national average, Losneck said.
According to a study of 1,450 Americans by Vitagene, about 89 percent reported they’d likely keep their resolutions for a year or less. Another 36 percent of respondents said they usually keep their resolutions for a month or less, meaning they’d be off track by February.
“Though your financial resolutions may have not gone as planned, it’s always better to keep on trying versus giving up entirely,” Losneck said, offering the following tips to help achieve financial stability:
- Use a budgeting tool: a successful budget must be recorded somewhere. Many websites, including Consumer.gov, NerdWallet and Mint, offer free Excel spreadsheet templates to help with recording budgets. If you’re looking for more mobile options, consider budgeting apps such as EveryDollar and YouNeedABudget.
- Be realistic about spending and saving: don’t set goals you can’t realistically achieve with your budget. Trying to spend too little or save too much each month could create frustration which will increase the likelihood you’ll dump your budget altogether. Instead, map out incremental changes you can make that will add up to big financial gains over time.
- Keep goals in mind: reminding yourself how you’d ultimately like your money to work for you can help with exercising control over impulsive spending habits.If you have a hard time picturing your long-term goals when you’re tempted to splurge, consider making those goals visual. Try keeping a picture of your ideal retirement in your wallet or a list of all the reasons you want that new car stuck to the fridge.
- Reward yourself: it is important to keep long-term goals in mind, but rewarding yourself for small budgeting wins along the way will keep you feeling positive about your budget. The more positively you feel toward a task, the more likely you are to continue performing it. After you reach certain budgeting goals, treat yourself to a small splurge. You earned it!
- Seek help: if you’re struggling to stick with a budget, consider asking for help. Sometimes, aid can come in the form of a family member who shares household finances. Other times, however, you may require an expert opinion. Credit unions often offer free financial counseling to Members and are happy to aid with budget set-up and maintenance.
Dave Godek, MBA
Business Development Manager
Eaton Family Credit Union