Pop quiz: How should you get financially fit in the New Year?
Dec. 9, 2021 • 3 min read
What we'll cover
What financial goals should be top-of-mind in the new year
How New Year's goals change at the beginning of the year
How to make a plan for the next 365 days
The end of one year and the beginning of the next always inspires reflection on the previous 365 days and hopes for the days ahead. From increasing fitness to expanding education to cutting bad habits, the spectrum of ambitions for the new year is boundless. But what about your financial resolutions?
No matter where you are on your financial journey, we could all use a refresh. The start of another year is the perfect opportunity to review your finances, check in on your goals and map out your next milestone. Not sure where to start? Take our quiz to find resolutions to consider for your financial goals in the new year.
Stay on track
Once you have your resolutions sorted, it’s time to get serious about making them happen. Financial goals don’t happen on their own. Like building any good habit, it takes time and commitment to build up those new routines.
Write it down
Just the act of writing out your financial goals can make a huge difference. Yes, really. Make sure to put them somewhere you’ll see them regularly (no hiding it away in the junk drawer). Set up a monthly or weekly reminder on your phone, put it on a fridge magnet, write in a sharpie on the front of your planner, just make sure it’s in front of you every day.
Better yet, share the goals with a trusted friend or family member. Whether you’re opening a retirement account, saving for a down payment or ready to start investing, sharing that intention with someone else can make a huge difference in keeping it top of mind and holding you accountable and moving forward. And as anyone who’s ever started a new workout routine come January 1, motivation is a major factor for all resolutions.
Have a budget
Sometimes the simplest steps are the most effective (and the hardest to remember). And yet, even though more people are budgeting than ever before, 65% of Americans aren’t keeping track of their spending, often due to misconceptions about budgets being restrictive. That’s why finding a budget style that suits you is an important first step.
The 50/30/20 rule can be a good place to start by splitting your spending into three categories: 50% goes to needs (rent, food, etc.), 30% goes to wants (dining out, streaming subscriptions, etc.) and 20% goes to savings. But if that doesn’t sound like a good fit, you can adjust to work for your lifestyle. (Or blend with the many other approaches to budgeting out there.)
Your budget doesn’t have to get in the way of other goals and priorities over the next year. Get creative. Eat healthy on a budget by shopping smart and stocking up on low-cost, high-nutrition items like whole grains and legumes. You can also save your way to a dream vacation by thinking beyond four star resorts (no need to literally keep up with the Kardashians). Strong budgeting can set you up for success, but it shouldn’t stop you from living your life.
Set yourself up for success
Establishing new habits is never easy, but there are ways to make it less difficult. Automation (through apps, notifications, etc.) is a great way to make certain you’re sticking to your financial resolutions. That could mean using recurring transfers into your Ally Bank Online Savings Account each month to build up your nest egg (or to save for a long-awaited vacation). The technology exists. Use it!
And make sure to find a process that works for you. Nothing can stop a resolution before it starts like a saving and budgeting approach that isn’t the right fit. You may try a buckets and boosters approach to keep yourself motivated and track your savings for the necessities (rent, groceries, healthcare) and the fun stuff (fashion, fun, travel).
New year, new finances
Building financial fitness isn’t easy, but it’s worth every penny. Remember to be realistic. You won’t conquer all your money goals in one year and putting that kind of pressure on yourself may do more harm than good. Map out a plan and stick to it, one day at a time.