One of the time-honoured traditions of the start of a new year is to make some resolutions, to set yourself some goals of the things that you’d like to achieve in the year ahead.
Making resolutions is easy, but sticking to them is not. We all start the year motivated and full of good intentions, but once we slip back into our day-to-day routines, it’s difficult to keep sight of the reasons we made the resolutions in the first place.
One tactic to help you keep on track in delivering on your New Year’s resolutions is to set some measures against them so that you can track and monitor your progress as the weeks go by. For some goals, financial measures can be a really practical way of determining whether you’re making progress towards your promises to yourself. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to set yourself some financial targets to help you stick to those New Year’s resolutions.
Drink less coffee
There may be several good reasons why you might wish to cut down on your caffeine intake, but a great motivator is to save some money. Are you buying a takeaway coffee on the way to work? Do you buy more than one coffee per day?
For example, if you’re in London and you buy a Flat White from Starbucks, it costs £2.50. If you’re buying two a day, you’re spending about £25 per week on coffee. If you could reduce that to one per day, you could save around £600 across the year.
Set up a designated Coffee Savings account and each week transfer in the money that you’ve saved by cutting back on coffee. Start planning what you’ll do with the £600 that you’ll have saved by the end of the year.
Drink less alcohol
With the excesses of Christmas and New Year’s Eve behind you, the start of the year is a great time to get motivated about reducing your alcohol intake. “Drink less” is a classic New Year’s resolution, but unless you set yourself some targets it’s really difficult to ensure that you deliver on the commitments that you’re making to yourself.
A good way to adjust your future behaviour is to look back at your past behaviour. Review your bank statement or credit card, and have a look at how much you typically spend on alcohol in a month. Put December to one side, as it’s generally a bit ‘distorted’, but take a look at November or October. Did you spend £50 on alcohol? £150? £250?
Set yourself a realistic target. Could you reduce that spend by £25 each month? That might be two cocktails less – or perhaps one less bottle of wine – or it might mean opting for a pint instead of a spirit. If you could save £25 each month that would amount to £300 across the year.
Set up a designated Alcohol Savings account. At the end of each month, look at the your bank account or credit card and add up how much you spent on alcohol. Did you hit your target? Transfer the amount that you saved into your savings account. Start planning what you’ll do with the £300 that you’ll have saved by the end of the year.
Invest for the future
One of the most common resolutions that we all make is to start the year with good intentions of sorting out our finances. This is the year that we’re going to pay down our debts, boost our savings, or invest in our longer term future. Good intentions are a great place to start, but you have to take some concrete steps to actually be doing something about it. For LGBTQ people, this can be particularly important as we very often don’t have the same life cycle and goals as straight people, so this the need to plan for the future may be overlooked or delayed.
Make your resolutions concrete and specific. For financial goals, they could be perhaps play out like this:
- Make an appointment to see a financial planner by the end of January
- Agree a financial plan by the end of February that includes short-term, medium-term, and long-term financial goals.
- At the end of August, review the progress that I’ve made in working towards the goals set in my financial plan.
- By the end of December, ensure that I have a date booked in for an annual review and update of my financial plan.
Find a Resolutions buddy
Whatever resolutions you’re making this year, whether finance-related or not, get some help in sticking to them. Talk to a friend or family member and share your resolutions with each other. Agree to help motivate and support each other as you work towards your resolutions. Schedule a monthly catch-up so that you can compare notes and progress and make any adjustments required as the year unfolds.
There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to the end of the year and feeling like you haven’t made any progress on getting to where you want to be. Making resolutions that you can stick to is a great place to start!