Imagine two people, John and Jane. While John feels he made significant headway on his financial goals last year, Jane is considerably less pleased with her progress.
What's the difference between the two?
Nope, it's not that John got a major raise at work or that Jane took an unexpected trip to Tahiti.
Instead, John did something on Jan. 1 that Jane didn't: He made a money resolution.
Sound too simple?
Consider this: A study by Fidelity Investments found that 51 percent of Americans who had a financial resolution for 2014 were satisfied with their financial progress this year, compared to just 38 percent of folks who didn't have one.
But what good is a resolution if you have no chance of sticking to it? To boost your chances of reaching your financial goals, you've got to make sure your resolutions are actually achievable in the first place.
To that end, we've rounded up three let's-nail-those-resolutions tips from finance pros to help ensure that 2015 is your best money year yet!
1. Get specific.
Beefing up your emergency fund can be a fantastic financial resolution. But if you simply think, "I'll save more money next year," it might never actually happen.
Instead, decide exactly how much you'll resolve to put aside each month, says Dr. Edwin Locke, dean's professor emeritus of leadership and motivation at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park.
In other words, concrete goals — such as the decision to direct deposit $100 from your paycheck each month into your savings account — are easier to actually achieve.
2. Put a plan in place for roadblocks.
When you're working toward a money goal, says Dr. Julia Bayuk, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Delaware's Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, it's important to think about how you might get tripped up — and then create a repeatable "if/then" plan of attack for yourself.
For example, if your financial resolution is to spend less on food, you might think, "If my friends invite me to an expensive restaurant, then I will suggest a cheaper option to them instead."
According to Bayuk, "The idea is to automate the process so that you always respond in a preset way when presented with a particular scenario."
With this strategy in place, you'll be less inclined to fret over what to do when you're put on the spot — and you'll be more likely to stick to your money resolutions.
3. Clear emotional hurdles.
Perhaps, in the past, your goal has been to get out of debt, but you've never quite been able to do it. The problem may be that you're "not consciously convinced that the goal is the right thing," Locke says.
Think about it: Do you have any reservations that could be holding you back? Maybe you're afraid that, once you pay down your debt, you won't know which money goal to prioritize next. Or perhaps you fear that since you've already made the mistake of getting into a lot of debt once, you're just going to do it again.
If you can pinpoint the emotional obstacles that stand between you and your dreams, you'll have a much better chance of knocking them down.
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