10 Money Goals You Can Actually Achieve This Year
Getting on track financially is among the most popular New Year’s resolutions, and for good reason. It’s certainly a worthwhile goal—as long as you stick with it!
Unfortunately, about 80% of people who make resolutions drop them by the second week in February. But take heart: this doesn’t mean your resolutions are doomed or that you lack followthrough. Most goals aren’t achieved simply because they’re too generic or large (i.e. unrealistic).
First of all, let’s acknowledge that dreaming big is a very good problem to have! You just have to be more specific and break things down into targeted, obtainable milestones to get there.
So let’s make it happen. The following are 10 worthy personal finance goals and how to *actually* follow through on them in the new year.
Personal Finance Goals to Conquer
- Face your finances fearlessly
Okay, facing your finances is scary, but it’s absolutely necessary. How can you expect to level up your finances if you don’t know where they currently stand? Taking an honest assessment of your situation and owning it will help you put a plan in action that’ll actually deliver results. Take stock of your entire profile: your net worth, debt-to-income ratio, housing, investments, the whole thing! Then, set some goals. What do you realistically hope to achieve in the near future?
- Make a budget—and maintain it
Budgeting is one of those things that people begin with enthusiasm, and then often it just…fizzles. Must we mention all those blank planners that go to waste a quarter of the way through the year? Why is this level of organization so difficult to maintain?
One common reason: you may be jumping into action too quickly. It’s important to actively choose a budgeting method that aligns with your resolutions, and then check in often. Use a budgeting app that allows you to easily assess progress, or if you’re going the manual route, set a time on your calendar each month to revisit and adjust as needed.
- Cut expenses
Many of us commit to goals without understanding that reaching them involves some sacrifice. In the world of personal finance, this means minimizing unnecessary expenses. This isn’t as bad as it seems—in fact, eliminating costs can be pretty satisfying.
Those budgeting apps we mentioned often track recurring payments, like streaming subscriptions, for example, that you might not know are being taken out of your account on a monthly basis. Then there are simple places to cut. Shopping more strategically for regular expenses, like groceries, can help to develop money-saving habits over time.
Finally, there are the bigger commitments—restaurants, entertainment, even fitness. Millennials have historically overspent in this category, but on average, all age groups spend $124.40 a month. While some recreational spending is a given, make sure your financial health isn’t suffering as a result. Overall, allocating fewer dollars to the fun jar just means you’re closer to reaching your milestones.
- Pay down debt
Those with debt are often too overwhelmed to know where to start. Just remember: an object in motion stays in motion. Once you get going with a plan that works for your unique circumstances, it gets easier.
There are many methods to achieve this. The snowball technique starts with making minimum payments on all debt, then using extra funds to pay off the smallest debts first. Meanwhile, the avalanche technique uses extra funds to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate. Explore them all first to understand which one will work best for your specific debt profile.
- Automate savings
The best approach to saving is the one you don’t have to think about. Automate savings by having a certain amount transferred every payday, and consider a high-yield savings account. These typically pay 20 to 25 times the national average of a standard savings account. Sure, this will take a while to accumulate, but it’s a much smarter move with very low risk.
Make sure you’re also taking advantage of your employee benefits—if this includes matching 401(k) programs that’s free money! Make sure you’re enrolled so that you’re auto-saving for your golden years on a beach (or wherever your dream life takes you).
- Create an emergency fund
We’ve all heard this alarming stat: more than half of Americans (51%) have less than three months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund. 25% don’t have an emergency fund at all.
If you have kids or pets, creating and contributing to an emergency fund is even more important. Accumulating enough to cover you in case of illness or hardship is critical. Make small deposits and if you expect any windfalls, direct them here or toward outstanding debt.
- Ask for a raise
We love that workers have felt professionally empowered this year. Employees have shaped a new hybrid workplace, prioritized health, and been more vocal about work/life boundaries. Make sure you’re advocating for yourself and requesting regular reviews and a raise as well, if you’re in a situation to do so.
- Take on a side hustle
Not everyone has the time or resources to maintain a side hustle, but if you do and you’re willing to put in the work it can really pay off. Dedicating these non-9-to-5 hustle funds to a particular goal, like paying off high-interest debt, can build momentum and motivate you to further succeed.
- Start investing
General rule of thumb: if the interest rate on your debt is 6% or higher, pay it down before investing. If you’re ready for this next step, do a deep dive on the fundamentals and avoid the temptation to jump onto the latest trend. We all want to collect a cool NFT, but for beginners an index fund or target-date mutual fund will help you build wealth long term.
- Invest in financial education
Good news with this one: by reading this blog you’re already on your way! Our personal finance hub exists for the sole purpose of equipping you with the info you need to reach your goals and gain control of your financial future, any time of year.
Banking on You
Whatever your money goals this year, remember that the time and energy you put in will be more than just an investment in your finances—it’ll also be an investment in you. A bit of organization, maintenance, and sacrifice in exchange for personal wellbeing? Totally worth it.
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Zip’s editorial content is not written by a financial advisor. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.