When the year ends and a new one begins, it's a common tradition to set a goal for the coming year.
Many people's New Year's resolution is to lose weight, eat healthier, or learn a new skill, while others set financial goals, like saving for a house or paying down debt.
If your New Year's resolution is to improve your financial well-being, but you have yet to make much progress, it's still possible! Here are 15 financial resolutions you can still keep.
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Create a budget
A budget helps you plan where your money will go to help you build up your savings and get out of debt.
One common method, the 50/30/20 rule, says that 50% of your income should go toward your needs, 30% toward your wants, and 20% toward debt and savings.
While this rule won’t work for everyone, it can be a helpful guideline if you’re unsure where to start.
Track your spending
You can also start tracking your spending in the new year to ensure you stay within your budget.
Tracking your spending can help you identify your spending habits and patterns to find where to cut back and adjust your budget accordingly.
You can easily track your spending with a budgeting app or a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets.
Save some money every month
Even if you can't save 20% of your income, you should still set aside something every month.
Many savings accounts pay compounding interest, so even a small balance will grow over time.
One trick to saving more is to set up automated transfers to your savings from your paycheck. This way, you pay yourself first, and spending your entire paycheck is much less tempting.
Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt
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Review your savings goals
It’s a good idea to review your savings goals at the beginning of the year.
Unrealistic goals can leave you feeling defeated when you don't reach them; however, objectives that could be more ambitious may lead to falling short of your savings potential.
It’s important to set S.M.A.R.T. goals, meaning they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Set up auto-pay
If your New Year's resolution is to pay your bills on time, it’s not too late to sign up for auto-pay.
Setting up auto-pay with your accounts effectively ensures you pay your bills on time to prevent fees and damage to your credit score.
However, keeping an eye on your balance is vital to avoid overdraft or insufficient fund fees. If you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, auto-pay may not be right for you.
Contribute to your 401(k)
Another great New Year's resolution is to max out your 401(k) contributions for retirement. Take advantage of employer match contributions to help your retirement savings grow faster.
It’s essential to understand any conditions required to qualify for the program so you can take full advantage of their contributions.
Open an IRA
If you want to save more for retirement this year, opening an individual retirement account (IRA) may be an excellent option, even if you already have a 401(k).
An IRA gives you more control over your investment options. Contributions may also be tax-deductible, reducing your taxable income for the year, depending on your income and eligibility.
Cut restaurant spending
In 2022, Americans spent over half their food budget on food away from home, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
If you tend to eat out a lot, cooking at home can help cut your food expenses so you can allocate more toward your savings and debt.
Meal planning and prepping can be effective ways to stay on track with eating at home more.
Cancel unnecessary subscriptions
We’ve all signed up for a streaming service to watch one movie but forgot to cancel afterward.
Although subscriptions are often inexpensive (some only cost around $10), when you’re signed up for multiple, they can really add up.
Take some time to review your subscriptions, and cancel any that you don't need or use anymore.
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Start or continue investing
Historically, the stock market has seen 10% annual returns, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Although past gains don't guarantee future returns, there is a great potential to earn more from equities than other investment options, like certificates of deposit, money market accounts, or bonds.
If you are a more risk-adverse investor, consider investing in ETFs or mutual funds to diversify your portfolio.
Make a will
A will ensures your assets go to your loved ones if you die unexpectedly.
Without one, a judge will decide the division of your estate in probate court — and their decision may not be what you would have wanted.
Not only can a will stipulate who your assets should pass to after you’re gone, but it can also name guardians for minor children and pets.
Pay down debt
A common New Year's resolution is to pay down debt. This debt could include personal or student loans, a mortgage, or credit card balances.
You’re more likely to stick to this goal if you make it specific and actionable. For example, resolve to stop charging purchases to your credit card and pay $100 more than the minimum amount due each month.
Review your insurance coverage
The new year may also be an excellent time to review your insurance coverage.
Life changes, such as getting married, having a child, or starting a business, can impact your insurance needs, so reviewing your coverage can ensure you have adequate protection.
Insurance companies also often change their policies and coverage options, so a yearly review can help you stay up-to-date with new offerings from your provider.
Review your credit report
Your credit report offers an overview of your financial history so you can analyze your finances and find areas for improvement.
It can help you identify any mistakes, such as inaccurate personal information or accounts, so you can take steps to correct them.
Reviewing your credit report may also help you spot suspicious activity early to prevent identity theft.
Optimize credit card rewards
When used responsibly, credit cards can offer excellent rewards to score cashback, travel miles, and other benefits.
If you're not currently carrying a credit card balance, a great New Year's resolution could be to find the cards that let you earn rewards on everyday purchases.
However, it’s essential only to charge purchases that you were already planning to buy and to pay off your entire balance every month.
If you've already given up on your first New Year’s resolution, it's not too late to improve your financial situation with these strategies.
When setting your New Year's resolution, it's essential to make sure your goals are realistic. Try to find ways to remind yourself what you're working toward to make it easier to stick with it.
Even if you’re not 100% perfect at keeping your resolution, don't let a setback early in the year discourage you from making positive changes.