By Kathryn Hazelett

Resolution (/ˌrezəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/), noun:

  1. a firm decision to do or not to do something.

Ah, New Year’s resolutions. Most of us make them and very few of us keep them. By this point in the year, we’ve probably all abandoned at least one.

How can we change the failure rate? There are actually some tips that can help us keep that resolution to save more and/or pay off our credit cards.

1. Break up your goal into realistic steps.

It’s absolutely wonderful to have a lofty goal. It’s even a good idea to aim for this goal starting at the new year. But, what often derails our progress is that the goal date is too far away. After all, a year is a very long time, and December 31st is 364 days away from January first. There are so many chances to skip the progress toward the goal today and assume you’ll make it up in July. There are too many chances to procrastinate.

So, break up your goal into realistic steps. If your overall goal is to save $1000 by the end of the year, also add in the goal of saving $10 a week with another $40 each month. Those smaller goals are closer in time, achievable, and keep you focused on the present.

2. Set goals the S.M.A.R.T. way.

Often we set goals without a specific target. If your goal is simply to save more, you could easily fall into the trap of vagueness, because really how much is more? One hundred dollars in the savings account is definitely “more,” but not likely the “more” that you had in mind.

The idea of “saving more” is a wonderful goal (and something we all need to do), but unless your resolution is “SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound”, you’re likely not going to achieve what you thought you would. In other words, if we want to save more, we have to set a specific amount with a timetable (like the monthly and weekly goals in #1 above) and we need to be able to see our progress wither through a separate savings account or through a segregated area of a checking account.

So, if your resolution, like mine, is to save more, remember to help yourself get there by breaking your goal into meaningful amounts with a specific (and less than a year) timeline!

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