4 Secrets to Making (and Sticking to) a Money Resolution

4 Secrets to Making (and Sticking to) a Money Resolution

day 4Happy New Year's Eve!

Guess what? It's also the fourth day in our 12 Days of LearnVest series—in which we teach you to be a whole new money you—and you've already made a lot of progress: You've started getting organized, and you’ve stopped making excuses.

Now on to the fun part: What's your New Year's resolution when it comes to your money?

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The glittery ball will drop tonight, and you'll want to be ahead of it. Plus, the sooner you decide your financial focus for this year, the sooner you can get started on reaching your goals.

So we want to know: What is your financial resolution?

We're talking one smoking money goal that will help get you closer to leading the life you want.

For example, we took a look at the top goals our premium LearnVest users, who already have financial plans through our Action Program, are aiming for. Here are the top five near-term aspirations these users have for their money:

1. A Big Vacation: 46%

2. A Job Switch: 28%

3. Going Back to School: 16%

4. Buying a Home: 13%

5. Having a Baby: 10%

RELATED: My ‘Phrase to Save’: How Real Readers Reach Their Goals

Those are big goals, and the money to fund them won't appear magically. In fact, the saving and budgeting required will take as much discipline as logging three extra miles on the treadmill each week.

That’s why we tapped Stephany Kirkpatrick, LearnVest’s director of financial planning and a Certified Financial Planner™, for her secrets on setting financial resolutions designed to stick.

1. Create eye candy: Keeping a “vision board”—essentially a collage of photos or words that remind you of your goals—can be a great way to stay motivated. And your board needn't be physical: “You can start a Pinterest page of your vision board, or change your Facebook background photo to reflect your goal,” says Kirkpatrick. For example, in January, that photo of the Bali sunset might be pinned from a travel site, but by June, you just might capture it on Instagram yourself.

RELATED: How to Create a Financial Vision Board

2. Make it bite-size: The key here is to break big goals into manageable steps. For example, saying, “I want to save an extra $5,000 by the end of the year” seems more daunting than “I want to save $2,500 by June." Better yet, do the division and start with: “I want to save an extra $416 a month.” Then it's a matter of making choices with your money to find more room in your budget. Setting milestones along the way will also make your resolution more manageable, so if you hit your $416 savings goal three months in a row, reward yourself.

RELATED: 8 Foolproof Ways to Grow Your Savings

3. "Piggy bank” the big dreams: To pay closer attention to those heftier financial goals like saving for a baby or your dream home, consider opening up a separate savings account specifically for the money you’re funneling toward them. “Then link this account to your Money Center so that you can keep track of it more easily,” says Kirkpatrick. Seeing that you have $10,000 saved specifically toward a down payment may make you less prone to “borrow” from one savings goal to meet another.

4. Get a money buddy: You already have a gym buddy who forces you to play racquetball when you’d rather go home and order pizza. And you know what? You never regret keeping that gym date. Why not have the same kind of accountability partner for your finances? "Enlist a good friend or family member who will support you in your financial goals, and set up a monthly check-in," Kirkpatrick says. Let them know how you’re doing (and vice versa), and give each other words of encouragement—or a friendly reminder that you’ve gotten off track.

 

LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Please consult a financial adviser for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.

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