Resolve to Keep Your Resolutions

If you're keeping up with your financial resolutions for 2024, chances are you've made a dent in, or even paid off, those holiday expenditures that have been looming over your head or in your bill pile. So firstly, congratulations! It takes discipline to turn away from post-holiday sales and adhere to a new, stricter budget.

You aren't alone in your quest to start the new year off on the right financial foot, but did you know that younger generations are more likely than older generations to make financial New Year's resolutions? A survey found that 82% of millennials and 74% of Gen Zers plan to set financial goals for the new year, compared to 69% of Gen Xers and just 49% of baby boomers, according to an article by "The Motley Fool."

Younger generations may be more inclined to set money goals for the new year given that they're generally earning less, saving less, and investing less than older generations. They're less likely to have made big purchases, such as a home or new car, and tend to have less savings for a retirement or emergency fund.

As you reflect on the past months or even years, there are likely many achievements to note regarding your finances. Perhaps you pared down your debt or planned for a big purchase. Maybe you started a savings account or obtained a Certificate of Deposit. (You are probably seeing some enticing CD deals right now with great APY % and the first of the year is the best time to jump on those offers!) You're on the right track!

Good money habits are a game-changer. It takes tenacity, commitment and a positive "I can do it" attitude to make strides in developing new habits.

It can be helpful to keep that momentum going in the new year. You're on the right track, and a fresh start brings great incentive to stay the course with — and improve upon — what is working for you.

Write down your specific goals. You've made progress, but for most people, there might still be more to do. Refresh those goals by:

Laying out how much debt you have to pay off. Perhaps your financial situation has changed over the past year as you have begun paying off debt and making solid financial decisions. Take a good look at where you stand.

Revisiting your monthly spending plan or budget. Perhaps you've paid off one credit card so you can devote more money to another. Take a fresh look at how much money you have to work with, what you need to set aside for other bills and living expenses, and how much you can allocate to your goal from each paycheck.

Asking yourself: How will I accomplish my goals? How much will I devote to achieving those results and how often? How will I set money aside?

Giving yourself deadlines and setting mini-goals along the way. It's important to break your goal into smaller milestones. This makes it easier to see your progress and less intimidating to reach for smaller, attainable goals. Those smaller changes over time are often easier to achieve than trying to make a massive change all at once. But in the end, you've accomplished the major goal by hitting minor milestones.

Be positive and realistic. Making sure your goals are realistic will increase your chances for success. Goals can challenge you and help you grow into a new future; however, choosing an attainable goal is an important part of success. Ask yourself: "Is it realistic to spend $200 on my goal each month? Is it possible to pay it off even faster by spending $250 a month? Or does my budget only allow for $100?" Planning your budget each month can show you how much money you can dedicate to achieving your financial resolution.

Keep track of your progress. Researchers have noted that making a goal measurable will help it stick. Keeping track of your progress and watching your pay-off balance shrink can help you stay focused and motivated. As you "check off" milestones and "to-do's," you will see your healthier financial future getting closer and closer, and become even more inspired.

Celebrate milestones. Achieving a financial goal is cause for celebration. Take time to observe your successes along the way. Being your own cheerleader is a good way to reinforce your new habits, which in turn makes it easier to stay on track if you hit a bump in the road at some point.

Finally, it can be helpful to remind yourself that you can do this!

Eliminating debt, learning new spending habits, and building savings are choices that can change your life. They can affect your overall well-being by reducing stress levels and making you healthy both financially and physically.