Attainable financial resolutions for 2018

Can you remember what resolutions you made last January? Or for how long you kept them?

The trouble with resolutions is that they’re often made half-heartedly, in an annual acknowledgment of our inadequacies and a cursory attempt at self-improvement. Once the hazy days of the holiday season are over and we are faced with the realities of day-to-day life, even the most well-intentioned of us tend to succumb to temptations or old habits far quicker than we would hope.

Our optimistic resolutions soon turn into unrealistic pressures, and our vows to hit the gym every day, or to remove sugar from our diet, don’t seem very pleasant or plausible for long. Having recently read this refreshing article on practical ways ways to make and keep resolutions – perhaps we can turn the tide on ruined resolutions!

The reason why most people don’t manage to stick resolutely to their resolutions isn’t so much a question of intention or desire. People don’t want to set themselves up to fail, but that is what we ultimately often end up doing when we don’t set realistic goals. Although we may be taught that we should reach for the moon, overstretching tends to result in us falling flat on our face, rather than landing among the stars.

The start of a new year is a great opportunity to sweep away the cobwebs and draw back the curtains to start afresh. So, if you would actually like to keep a new year’s resolution, then make it an attainable one. Acknowledge your shortcomings and set yourself up for success in 2018 by giving yourself a goal that you can easily achieve.

If you want to improve your financial well-being, start by working some small steps into your routine. These can include buying less coffee; carrying a reusable water bottle, walking to places instead of driving or taking Ubers; and increasing your monthly savings or debt repayments by a feasible sum that you’ll barely notice (particularly if you automate the amount).

Write a list of things that you would like to accomplish and a simple way in which each can be done. For example, if you wish to contribute R3,600 more per year to your retirement fund, then you may be able to achieve this by foregoing one monthly meal in a restaurant or halving your weekly cappuccino consumption.

Then sleep on it and choose one or two resolutions, rather than trying to attempt everything on the list. Furthermore, give yourself a manageable timeframe — such as three months, instead of 365 days — and commit to following through for that specific amount of time. Once you succeed, you can then decide to commit to another short period. Additionally, set yourself quantifiable targets instead of vague goals that involve actions like ‘cutting down’ or ‘buying less’. For example, if you currently buy five coffees a week, decide to buy only two a week and make the rest at home.

Attaining a financial goal in 2018 doesn’t have to be stressful if you set yourself fun-size resolutions and break the year up into bite-size pieces. The important thing is to work on improving an aspect of your life for the sake of your future. And what better month to start than January?

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