Have you noticed how crowded your gym suddenly is the first week in January? Or that all those coworkers who gorged on holiday cookies at the end of December are now munching on salad?
That’s because it’s New Year’s resolution crunch time and getting in shape is one of the most popular goals Americans set every January 1.
But there’s another type of resolution that many of us are also likely kickstarting this week: getting our finances healthy. According to the 2016 Money Habits & Confessions Survey by LearnVest, 56% of Americans plan to make one or more financial resolutions this year. The top goals cited? Saving more, spending less and paying down debt.
And while both types of resolutions may seem daunting at the outset, the irony is that more than a quarter of those surveyed seem to find fitness goals easier to follow through on: 27% of respondents (and 38% of millennials) said they would be more likely to give up on a New Year’s financial resolution than sack a diet resolution.
But the truth is, boosting your fitness and boosting your finances share a lot of similarities, so if you're ready and willing to take on one, you can take on the other. Don't believe us? Here are three major ways getting your body and your money in shape can be the same — and strategies you can apply to both types of goals
It's Easier to Stay Motivated With Friends
How many times have you tried to work out on your own, only to realize that you push yourself harder in a group class — and better yet, one that your friends attend with you? Or found that's it's easier to eat healthy when everyone else at the table is also ordering temptation-free foods?
The same goes for your money aspirations; in fact 74% of survey respondents said they'd be more likely to stick to a financial resolution if they talked about it with others. And yet, 68% said that they would rather share their weight than their credit score with their friends!
Bottom line: Having a "money buddy" the way you have a gym buddy or diet buddy can fuel your motivation and drive. So don't be afraid to share your financial goals with people close to you and encourage them to share theirs. Then set up regular times where you can check in on each other and keep each other accountable.
Focusing on Your Progress Can Help You Stay the Course
When setting new goals, it's important to remember that progress matters most, not perfection. After all, thinking solely about the ultimate number you're trying to reach can feel too daunting; it might be why a quarter of Americans surveyed believe that training for a marathon is easier than sticking to a financial resolution for a year.
But think about it: You wouldn’t train for a marathon by running 26.2 miles the first time out, right? Instead, you’d start by giving yourself milestones to hit and then keep up your conditioning until your body becomes accustomed to running farther and farther.
Along those lines, giving yourself manageable benchmarks to start with can help you reach your financial goals in a less stressful way. For instance, rather than deprive yourself to reach a $1,000 savings goal in just a few months, start by stashing away something small — say, $50 per month — and if that proves to be doable, consider boosting it to $75, then $100 and so on until you reach your goal.
Sometimes a Coach Can Help Provide That Extra Push
When those last few stubborn pounds refuse to melt off — despite your weekly workouts and calorie counting — you might turn to a personal trainer or nutritionist to take a closer look at your routine to see what else you could be doing to reach your fitness goals.
In much the same way, you may need an outsider to take a closer look at your finances in order to help coach you on what you could be doing differently to help meet goals like saving for retirement, paying down credit cards or finally being able to afford your first home.
That could mean turning to money mentors in your life (people you know who have always been good with their finances) for insight on how they handle their money life, or speaking with a financial planner who can help you come up with strategies for managing your budget, establishing better money habits and making progress toward all your future money goals.