How to keep your financial New Year's resolutions

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By Valarie Peritz

We’re just days into 2018, and if you’ve already spent your monthly allowance on lattes, don’t freak out just yet. There are plenty of other ways to get back on track and stick to your financial New Year’s resolution.

To make your resolution stick, you need to start by setting a goal and planning how to achieve it. If you want to reel in your debt, write down a solid plan. Instead of just saying you will pay off your credit card, plan to put $100 a month towards your card every paycheck. By writing specific goals, you set an expectation for yourself and can monitor your personal progress.

According to the University of Scranton, it’s estimated only 8% of people reach their New Year’s resolutions. If you fear you’ll fall into the other 92 percentile, there are small ways you can set yourself up for success. Instead of thinking of your goals as a resolution, start to think of them as lifestyle choices. Let’s go back to the credit card example: instead of saying your resolution is to pay off your credit card, decide you will now live within your means. If you decide to stop using your credit card as a lifestyle choice, the debt won’t continue to rise, and you will be able to pay it off slowly with your extra funds.

Make sure your new lifestyle choices are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive. If your goals are too broad, you won’t be able to measure your progress. It’s important to track your progress, because it’s the only way to tell if you are truly succeeding or just following a plan that will lead nowhere. You also need to be realistic. We can’t all become millionaires in just one year, but we can start taking classes that will lead to a higher paying career or save $20 more a week to pad our emergency funds. Lastly, make sure you put a completion date on your goal. If you want to get a new job, set a specific time frame. For example, you want a new job by June, or you want to save $1,000 before your next big holiday.

Every lifestyle change, no matter how big or small, is tough. Make sure you have a support system to help you stick to your plan. Talk to your family, friends, and even co-workers to set up a network of supporters who will keep you on track for 2018!