By Eileen AJ Connelly, AP Personal Finance Writer
New York (AP) — Every January, it's the same drill. This is the year you will cut your debt, save money and spend more wisely.
And you, like millions of others, will fail again for no good reason.
Want to break the cycle of broken New Year's resolutions? The professionals say you've got to get automated, get educated, and get over the fear of making changes.
But first things first.
Get rid of those hazy promises to yourself about your fiscal behavior. Sit down and make a list about exactly what you want to achieve, advises Scott Halliwell, a USAA financial planner. Designate actionable items for each month, starting with spending January to get your budget and savings plan on track.
There's a difference, for example, between "I want to increase my savings," and "I want to have $1,000 more in the bank by April 1."
How do you get from here to there? Here's how you start:
Automate as much as possible
One key way to stay on track is to make things as easy as possible. "If you don't automate it, oftentimes things won't get done," Halliwell said. "Life will get in the way."Setting up automatic savings is easy on most bank websites. Doing so makes you much more likely to keep that resolution to save more. Add auto bill pay, and you will take a big step toward avoiding late charges that run up costs unnecessarily. Making payments on time is also the single most important thing you can do to maintain a healthy credit score.
Automation doesn't mean you can avoid periodically checking on your progress, however. At least once a month, designate a day to go over your performance during the prior few weeks, and make any adjustments that are necessary.