As the new year dawns among a shower of confetti, cheers, and champagne toasts, many Americans will find themselves making resolutions. Huge portions of the population will vow to better themselves in some way. Many of those vows will not outlive the winter, let alone the year. Two very common resolutions are to get in shape and to spend less money.
Unfortunately, these common resolutions are just as commonly broken. For those of you resolving to slim down your body and/or bulk up your wallet (or savings account) in the new year, here are some tips to help the resolution stick!
Many individuals make their resolutions complicated and unattainable. For example, you might make a resolution to lose 30 pounds in a month. While that’s an awesome goal, it probably isn’t doable in only 30 days. At the end of the month, when you’ve lost only 12 pounds you may feel discouraged and give up completely instead of feeling happy with your progress. Pick resolutions that are possible to accomplish like losing 5 pounds in a month or cutting out one trip to Starbucks each week.
Part of being realistic is making it simple. Don’t over complicate things. If you can’t figure out how to start working towards your goal, your resolution will be doomed from the get-go. If you’re focusing on weight loss, try these three simple steps to get started. If you’re whipping your finances into shape, the best place to start may very well be with a simple budget.
Make It Measurable
Don’t make a vague resolution. Don’t say “This year I want to lose weight” or “This year I’m going to spend less money.” Instead, pick very specific, quantifiable resolutions. For example, “I’m going to get down to a size 6” or “I’m going to save $2,500 by December 31, 2014.” Once you’ve made measurable resolutions, measure them! Keeping track of your progress will help you to really take notice of your successes and failures.
If your resolution revolves around finances, start with a free personal budget template. List all of your expenses and sources of income and challenge yourself to meet your goals. Treat it almost like a game or a competition. Write your successes (meeting or exceeding your goals) in green and your failures (over spending or under saving) in red.
If your resolution revolves around getting in shape or losing weight, hold yourself accountable. Keep track of your eating and fitness habits. There are some really great free weight loss programs and apps that can help with this task.
It’s great to get excited about your new goals and to really dedicate yourself to achieving them; however, avoid extremes. Don’t traumatize yourself into developing an eating disorder just so you can attain your New Year’s resolution to lose weight. In addition, don’t become a hoarder or savings addict in your quest for financial fitness. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of having a savings addiction, take this quiz to find out if you have one. If you believe you have developed any kind of addiction, eating disorder, or damaging habit, seek professional help immediately.
Slimming down your body and bulking up that bank account are admirable resolutions to make this January 1st. Physical and financial fitness are things millions of Americans are on a quest for year-round. This year, use the tips in this article to stick to those New Year's resolutions.
Kelli Bhattacharjee is the owner of FreebieFindingMom.com. As a former finance professional, Kelli is happy to share her knowledge to help others save money and empower Family CFOs to make smart money decisions. Do you have a money question? Just ask Kelli.