A New Year's Goal

Originially published 12/10/2010. Updated 11/20/2014

Every year millions of us make a resolution to lose weight, exercise more, or eat healthier. Sometimes, after getting off to a great start, we revert back to our old habits. Unfortunately, money habits can be just as difficult to change as eating and dieting habits.

The challenge may be setting a goal that is achievable. Sometimes it helps to set a large goal, with several small goals along the way. For example, Katie would like to save $1,500 to take a trip next Christmas. One way to set this goal is for Katie to say she’ll save $1,500 by December 1, 2011. The question is, how?

A good goal has three components:

  • The reason you are setting the goal. What is important to you? Why do you need or want to reach the goal (saving money, pay down debts, etc.);
    •  I want to save this money in order to take a trip to see my family whom I have not seen in two years.
  • The overall goal (save $1,500); and
  • The steps in reaching the goal
    • I will review my spending and look for ways to reduce expenses or increase my income
    • From each paycheck I will save $62.50 ($125 a month)
    • I will put this money in a separate savings account

The next step is to write these points down and post them somewhere you will always see them. You may want to put them in multiple places, such as your bathroom mirror, car, kitchen, etc.  When you feel the urge to spend more, eat more or do something that may move you further away from your goal, read what you wrote down. Remind yourself what you hope to gain by completing this commitment to yourself.

Finally, create a support network. Let other people know that you have this goal. If the goal is weight loss, consider joining Weight Watchers or some other diet and exercise support group. If your goal is money related, contact a certified credit counselor. They can help you reach your goal of setting a budget, saving money or managing your debts.  

Remember, this is your commitment to yourself. Look for tools to help you be successful in your New Year’s endeavor!