New Year, New You— Maybe Not?

 In Financial Planning

In 2020 we’re entering not only a new year but a new decade. It’s the perfect time to hit the reset button and change old habits that haven’t been serving you well.

I can’t count how many times I’ve made the New Year’s resolution to lose weight only to give up by mid-February. While reflecting on prior weight-loss failures, many of the ways I set out to reach my goals have involved a drastic overhaul of my way of life.

If I can just eliminate sugar from my diet, drink ten glasses of water daily and attend high intensity cardio classes four times a week all the weight would surely melt off. The reality is I currently workout once a month, drink two glasses of water on a good day and ate about five Christmas cookies while writing this blog.

A more realistic resolution might be to stop eating after 7pm and walk my dog for 20 minutes each morning.  Once these things become routine, I can add additional changes to reach my long-term goal. The same technique is true for those who set out to get financially fit.

When looking to overhaul your financial situation start with a few smaller goals and be intentional about making those changes before adding too much to your financial resolution list. Maybe your goal for 2020 is simply to pay off your credit cards. The first step in this process would be to stop using them to pay for additional things. Once you stop using the cards for purchases you can increase your monthly payments by $100 a month over your usual payment.  If you set the goal to pay off a balance in 6 months but then end up using the card to get you to the next paycheck you are bound to give up on your goal altogether.

If retirement savings is on your list, start with a goal of consolidating and organizing any old company plans. If you’re just starting out, set a goal to get the paperwork filled out and turned in to contribute to your company plan or open an IRA account.  I encourage clients to dream big but if saving an additional $500 a month is not realistic with your current cash flow situation start with $250 and reevaluate in April.

I hope it goes without saying, but an engagement with a financial planner can help make these small housekeeping items into resolution achievements. We can organize your actions, cheer you on when doing well, and motivate you when you need the help.

When making a resolution this year, it doesn’t have to be one huge goal or even 50 little things. Think of a resolution that involves eliminating one bad habit or adding one healthy one and going along in incremental steps. Whether it’s late night snacking or online shopping that is keeping you from living your #bestlife, keep-in-mind the satisfaction of accomplishing attainable goals can be a motivator for future goal setting—or at least keep you from throwing in the towel on lofty ones.

If you need help coming up with ideas for your incremental goals please visit our website at www.pearlplan.com/52pearls or reach out to me at melissa.fradenburg@pearlplan.com

Any Opinions are those of Melissa Fradenburg and not necessarily those of Raymond James.