Financial Resolutions: A Waste of Time?


With the New Year around the corner, you may have begun to think about a resolution.

Financial resolutions are always near the top of people's choices when surveys are conducted. With the economy in such a mess, it's a good bet they will be even more popular this year. While saving more, paying off debt and reducing spending aren't bad in themselves, there are a number of reasons you should ignore these popular financial resolutions.

Resolutions are a delaying tactic: If a financial resolution is so important that you need to make a resolution about it, you should already be working toward it. The fact that you don't have to begin working on your New Year's resolution until after the New Year makes it an easy way to delay your important financial matters. Don't put it off.

Resolutions are all or nothing: Financial New Year's resolutions tend to be all or nothing, but finances rarely work that way. There are usually a lot of ups and downs before you are able to reach a financial goal. The problem with financial New Year's resolutions is that they are set up so that the first time something goes wrong, you have failed. If you haven't developed a plan on how to respond and proceed when a financial obstacle occurs, the resolution will likely be abandoned until the following year.

Resolutions are too big: You don't instantly find yourself on the top of the mountain if you decide to climb one. You have to plan, train, get the proper equipment and make your way to the top one step at a time. Financial resolutions are usually top-of-the-mountain issues. For example, no matter how much you wish, you aren't going to be able to wipe out all your credit card debt in a couple of months. Instead, you will need to work at it one step at a time probably for more than a year. You would be much better off focusing on the first step of reducing your credit card debt by paying more than the minimum requirement each month.

Resolutions are easy to quit: Most people realize the vast majority of people never follow through with the New Year's resolutions. Even if you tell family and friends about them, they tend to be so general that nobody will hold you accountable because it's impossible for anyone to measure them.

Instead of a general financial resolution, make a specific goal and ask friends and family to support you in trying to reach it. Provide numbers to keep you more honest. Doing so makes it much harder for you to quit.

Resolutions lack the required preparation: Financial resolutions are usually made while thinking about what you would like to change, but forgetting to think about how you are going to go about that change.

Making changes requires preparation, work, patience, stamina and discipline to succeed. If you don't conduct the initial research and preparations on how you are going to make the resolution succeed, there is a very good chance you'll never achieve it. Most New Year's resolutions are simply statements or wishes made without any planning.

Resolutions are negative: Even before you begin your New Year's resolutions, you probably already have little hope for success, especially if you have set a similar goal in the past. When you make financial resolutions year in and year out, it becomes easy to believe they are impossible to accomplish. By moving away from resolutions to concrete financial goals, you place yourself in a position to positively move toward achieving them.

Break any resolution into smaller financial goals, research and plan how you are going to accomplish each by setting up a step-by-step plan and measure your progress along the way. The key is creating the opportunity for success.

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