Without a doubt, one of my absolute favorite times of year is the one little week sandwiched in between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The craziness of the holidays are over and I start to get really, really motivated for the year ahead. And hopefully you already know that I LOVE GOAL SETTING. So that’s basically what I spend the whole week doing…and not surprisingly, a lot of my goals tend to be financial ones. Then once I’ve settled on them, I work really, really, really hard to get them accomplished.
So as you start brainstorming ideas to tackle your own financial goals, use these tips and resources to get them totally accomplished this year:
Related post: The Life-Changing Power of Goal Setting
WRITE IT DOWN…ALL YEAR LONG
This alone makes you statistically more likely to accomplish your goals. When we write things down, we’re forced to really think through our thoughts and it makes a BIG difference! So write down what your goals are…and don’t stop! Track your progress and document your thoughts. If you take your resolution seriously then you WILL accomplish it.
Try to set time aside every Sunday night to write your weekly goals and assess how the past week went. It will keep you motivated and ensure that you don’t go off the rails for too long. Depending on your goals, daily documentation may be your key. If you aspiring to save money or pay down debt, then a daily budget is crucial! You’ll figure out what you’re spending on and where you can cut back.
A year is a really long time. I think it’s such a bummer that we only celebrate our goals on New Year’s! It makes it sooo, sooo much harder to actually accomplish anything because it is so much easier to just forget and then throw in the towel. This is why big businesses are required to release quarterly earnings, not just annual earnings. It’s why weight programs have weekly weigh-ins, not annual weigh-ins. And it’s why mortgage companies require monthly payments, not just annual ones. If you set big milestones for yourself and then re-assess at that point, you are guaranteed to make progress, even if it’s not as much as you hoped.
So if there’s one resolution that will accomplish all others, it’s this: Formally sit down and go over your goals once a week. That’s it. Just commit to checking in and the progress will naturally follow.
Related article: The Only New Year’s Resolution You Need to Accomplish Everything
KEEP THE MOTIVATION GOING
There’s no question that most resolutions fall apart when you start to lose motivation. And that is totally inevitable because you can’t possibly stay motivated forever! The key is to have quick fallbacks that you know will give you a boost so that you can get back on track before blowing all of your hard work. For me, the winter months are the worst because the bad weather just seems to suck the life out of everything.
What works for me may not work for you, but here are some of my favorite ways to muster up new motivation:
TV & Movies
I know I’m supposed to pretend like TV is a bad thing and like it hampers productivity, but I honestly just don’t see it. When I’m slow to move or down in the dumps, 9 times out of 10 the right show will pick me up in no time. Here are some great ones that I’d recommend:
- The Secret – The Secret is super, super, suuuuper cheesy, BUT it totally works if you let yourself believe it! My husband and I watch this constantly and it only takes about 10 minutes to get us going.
- TINY: A Story About Living Small – This documentary isn’t exactly money-related, but it’s great if you’re trying to simplify your life, live mindfully, or are just overwhelmed feeling like you don’t have enough. Obviously, if we can be happier with less “stuff” then we will have more money to spend on things that really matter.
- Shark Tank – This is one of my favorite “regular” shows and I often turn it on in the background when I’m struggling to get writing. Sometimes nothing is more motivating than watching other people accomplish their goals.
Related article: 5 Documentaries that Will Inspire You to Change Your Life
Books have the same effect as the right show (probably better actually) and there are soooo many options out there. Have a list of books ready to read when you embark on your resolution so that you have motivation waiting for you on your nightstand. The nice thing about books is that they last way longer than an inspirational show. Finding the right book can be totally priceless. Here are some of my favorites that I would recommend:
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich – This book completely changed my life. If your resolution is business-related, you absolutely have to read this.
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – I still can’t believe how inspirational and motivating this book was, and it’s one that I go back to read again and again. Like Tiny, it’s not quite money-related, but since detaching from “things” is one of the best ways to cut back on spending and build wealth it can be pretty transformational to your bottom line. (You can also read more about the book here – The Next Book You Have to Read: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up).
- Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!– After reading this book, I went and read through almost all of Robert Kiyosaki’s books and they’re constantly pushing me to manage my money better. If your resolution is money-related, then I highly recommend this (or any of his books).
I’ve already got a growing list of books I’m planning on reading, so if you’ve already read the above, consider some of the following (this is what I’ll be reading):
Exercise is not just for those resolving to lose weight – exercise helps everything… including your financial resolutions. No matter what your goal is, exercise will help you achieve it. It increases your energy level, it relieves anxiety, and it gives you a much needed break from everything else. You’ll get more ideas, have more self-discipline, and develop natural motivation. Just force yourself to do it!
GET THE BIGGEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
I mean this literally AND metaphorically. Figure out how to use the least amount of effort to get the greatest return. Make changes and adjustments that will be easy for you. Try to figure out what would have the greatest impact on your goal and focus on that first.
Here are some powerful (and easy) steps to take for some of your financial resolutions:
- Automate all of your payments. (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DO THIS!! If you think that you can’t, then just do it for $25 a month. If you think you can’t do that, then do it for $25 a quarter. I promise it will make a difference.)
- Find a few things that you’re paying for that you actually don’t need. Stop buying them and put that money directly towards your goals. (TIP: You don’t need cable. Cancel it and pay for Netflix and Amazon Prime instead.)
- Sign up for a free site like Mint.com to track your spending, wealth, and net worth.
- Plan out your meals. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also save time and sanity.
- Take advantage of monthly sale cycles. If you do it right, you can save tons of money.
- Automate or outsource any task that you don’t need to be doing yourself. (If you don’t believe how powerful this is, read The 4-Hour Work Week)
- Invest in your own education. You are your greatest asset.
- Join or create a mastermind group of like-minded individuals. I did this last year and the results were mind boggling!
- Throw out or donate every item in your house that doesn’t bring you joy or serve a purpose. It may seem counter-intuitive, but having less stuff will keep you from spending on things you don’t need.
- Meditate for 5 minutes every morning (just 5 minutes is all you need). Clearing your head is critical for long-term resolutions (which is often the case with financial goals!).
Related article: How to Pay Off Your Student Loans Early
BUILD IN ACCOUNTABILITY
Ironically, financial goals are often kept to ourselves. Most people don’t want to talk about the money they have (or don’t have), they don’t want to admit that they need to cut back, or that they’re buried in debt. This all makes sense, but once you’ve decided that you’re going to take your goals seriously, you have to build in accountability. You don’t need to publish your plans on Facebook, you just need to find at least one other person that will hold you accountable. A spouse or significant other is a prime candidate for accountability because they are likely directly impacted by your financial status. Go over your goals and check in with them as often as possible. Plan out something fun when you accomplish your milestones so that they become just as excited as you are.
Most importantly, try to make accomplishing these goals a FUN process. I realize that sounds crazy, but having a negative mindset about your financial position dooms your outcome. Most financial goals take a really long time to accomplish, so you need to be in it for the long haul.
Good luck with your goals! Let me know if you’ve got any other great tips for building wealth and paying down debt.
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