It’s three months past 2021. Let’s look at the New Year’s financial resolutions. (Do you remember these?) They may have already gone wrong.
You may have planned to build a $ 1,000 emergency fund, but the balance is still zero. Or maybe you swore off takeaway but you are scraping that last bite of chow mein out of a paper container as you read this.
Do not put yourself down. You don’t have to give up your goal because of a setback.
“The New Years Eve is nothing magical and you don’t have to wait until 2022 to try again,” said Amy Hubble, certified financial planner and founder of Radix Financial LLC in Oklahoma City.
Find out what went wrong
Stand back and examine why you couldn’t stick to your solution at all. Possible culprits: The goal was vague, too ambitious, or there was no plan. Suppose you wanted to save money. It wasn’t about how much to save, how to save it, and so on. A more effective solution could have been to deposit $ 100 from each paycheck into a savings account.
Hubble recommends using “SMART” goals Framework for setting resolutions. That stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and current, she says. Did you miss any of these elements? If so, there is a good chance that you can save it by starting over with this approach.
But sometimes resolutions can no longer be saved. If your financial situation has changed since you set it up – say, you’ve lost your job or unexpectedly faced a major home repair – it’s perfectly acceptable to tweak it or walk away.
“Financial planning is a process, not an event,” said Trent Porter, certified financial planner, life coach, and founder of Priority Financial Partners in Durango, Colorado. “Life will change and your goals and how to get there will have to change.”
Know your reason
Are you ready to try your solution again? Ask yourself why you chose this goal and what exactly you want to achieve.
“Maybe it’s less stressful for your marriage or partnership, maybe it’s the ability to take a vacation when the world opens up again, and maybe it’s the ability to retire a year early,” says Hubble.
A personal reason can inspire you to stick with it.
Take smaller steps
If you know your “why” but are having trouble working towards the solution, try making “small plans within the big plan,” says Hubble. Think about what you can do daily, weekly, or monthly to better meet your 2021 goal.
For example, if your financial solution is to pay off $ 10,000 credit card debt, calculate how much you’ll have to pay each month to meet that goal, says Hubble. Then focus on that smaller part.
Find a responsible partner
Find someone to discuss your solution with. You can be looked after and encouraged by a spouse, roommate, friend, or co-worker. It is particularly important to get advice from a partner with whom you share the finances.
“If your goals aren’t aligned or they don’t support what you’re trying to achieve, it becomes a lot harder,” says Porter.
It is also an option to seek help from an expert such as a financial planner. If you have a complicated financial situation or solution, these can help you create a customized plan.
Automate your resolution
By automating the work, you can make progress even if you are losing momentum or prone to forgetfulness. You can set up recurring bill payments, transfer money between bank accounts, or Track spending with one app, for example.
If you have to pay $ 200 for a credit card bill every month, have that payment automatically withdrawn on payday before you have a chance to overpay, says Hubble. “Do it where it’s almost harder not to pay that bill.”
Check your status
Don’t make yourself too comfortable. Schedule quick check-ins with yourself or your supporter to monitor your progress. Once a month should be enough for most resolutions.
Add up each time you check in how much you saved or spent so far and compare that to where you expected at that point in time. Pay attention to all roadblocks. Then you can decide whether to continue or refine your technique.
Success won’t happen overnight. You have about nine months this year to reach your resolution goal. Leave the rough start behind and get your new plan moving.
This article was written by NerdWallet and originally published by The Associated Press.