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Creating Effective New Year’s Financial Resolutions

L Haelen 2016
Laurie Haelen, AIF®
Senior Vice President, Manager of Investment and Financial Planning Solutions
[email protected]
(585) 419-0670 x41970

How many of us can honestly say that we have made, and stuck to, all of our New Year’s Resolutions over the years? For those of you who have, I congratulate you; you have achieved something that many struggle with each year. Recent research from YouGov Omnibus shows that only 1 in 5 Americans has stuck to their New Year’s Resolutions. Whether it is losing weight, creating better work/life balance or taking up a new hobby, often times our busy lives get the better of our good intentions. It can be the same with Financial Resolutions, unless you not only create the plan, but also create an easy way to track and measure (and celebrate) your results. 

Step One: Memorialize the Goal(s) 

You may have heard the expression “If it can’t be measured, it can’t be done.” In order to create the plan, the place to begin is putting your goals into writing. It is o.k. to have both short-term and long-term goals (a new house, and retirement, for example). However, it is critical for success to make sure that the list is not too long and that the goals are clear and easy to measure. If, for example, your goal is to “save more money,” like 55% of those recently surveyed by Fidelity responded, then how much? Set a specific target based upon your budget and the timeframe. Avoid vague goals like “send children to a good school” or “have a comfortable retirement.” Being specific is critical to an effective process. 

Step Two: Knowledge is Power 

In order to figure out what you can accomplish, you first must evaluate your current baseline for fiscal fitness. Do you have a good handle on what you spend? Do you know your credit score? Are you maximizing all the savings options available through work? Are you spending money on things that will diminish your ability to meet your goals? A good look at your current spending and saving habits can be surprising and may result in some revisions to your goals. 

Step Three: Monitor Your Progress 

Once the goals are written, the next step is to make them easy to track and monitor. There is the more old-fashioned way to do this (pen and paper, or an Excel spreadsheet) or you can take advantage of various software (Quicken, Mint) to ameliorate the reporting process. For short-term goals, monthly monitoring makes a lot of sense, whereas for longer-term goals, a semi-annual or annual review is preferable. 

Step Four: Celebrate the successes-acknowledge the shortfalls 

If you are successful at one (or more) of your goals, plan a celebration. Success breeds success, so it is important to make progress milestones memorable. A hike in the woods, a family movie night or a game night with friends, whatever you wish that you could spend more time doing. If you are not completely successful, it may be time to take a look at why and tweak the goals accordingly. 

Having a written plan has proven to be the key to building wealth, at all income levels. Whether or not you are currently the type of individual who is good at planning, a few simple steps can get your resolutions kick started for 2019. As always, our team of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals stand ready to help you create and implement a successful financial strategy. In the meantime, we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!

This material is provided for general information purposes only. Investments and insurance products are not FDIC insured, not bank deposits, not obligations of, or guaranteed by Canandaigua National Bank & Trust or any of its affiliates. Investments are subject to investment risks, including possible loss of principal amount invested. Past performance is not indicative of future investment results. Before making any investment decision, please consult your legal, tax or financial advisor. Investments and services may be offered through affiliate companies.