AS WE kick start 2018, you've probably made a few resolutions. It's not a bad idea, and simple lifestyle changes can improve your health and put valuable dollars back in your pocket.
The trick is to make your resolutions last the whole year and that can call for a couple of clever strategies.
Resolutions such as quitting smoking for instance, are definitely worthwhile. Along with health benefits, if you're a pack-a-day smoker you could save over $10,000 annually and halve your life insurance premiums.
Even small steps like swapping three takeaway dinners for home-cooked meals each week could save $3120 over the year, comparison site Mozo says.
The problem is that even with the best of intentions, our resolutions rarely make it past Valentine's Day. So here are a few tips to make them stick.
Instead of setting overwhelming goals like "I want to get out of debt”, try setting small but specific targets. Something like "I will pay an extra $100 off my credit card each month” makes it easier to stay on top of your resolution and track your process over the next 12 months.
Technology can take the hard work out of keeping up with financial goals. If you've made a pledge to "save more”, break it down into a bite-sized target like "I want to save $50 each week” (or whatever your budget will allow). Then set up an automatic funds transfer of this amount into a savings account. Start today and by saving $50 a week you could have $2600 by the end of the year.
If you have resolved to save more for retirement, ignore what your friends or peers are doing and focus on your own goals.
Researchers from Harvard University ran an experiment to see how much more workers would contribute to their retirement savings if they knew what their colleagues were contributing. It turned out this discouraged people from adding to their retirement nest eggs because they felt demoralised by the sums that some co-workers were able to save.
This highlights how building wealth isn't a matter of keeping up with the Joneses. It's about setting your own goals and consistently working towards them at a pace you can manage.
With some clear goals and a plan to achieve them, 2018 could be your most prosperous year yet!