Are your financial New Year’s Resolutions on track?

By Anouska Linz
It’s hard to believe that it is already a quarter of the way through 2014. You have had a few months to recover from the holiday break and get back on track, which makes this a great time to review your financial resolutions to see where you stand. 

New Year’s resolutions have copped a bad reputation in the past as plenty of people make resolutions, but the majority of them fail in the first few months. Out of the 50% of Australians who make resolutions, 88% of them don’t follow through will achieving their goals. But, even if you know that your efforts to achieve your financial resolutions have dwindled, it does not mean you should give up. Financial goals should be made throughout the whole year, not just on December 31st.

So no matter what your financial resolutions are, whether it be paying off your credit cards or personal loan, paying down your mortgage or saving for an overseas trip, there are ways to become motivated again and get back on track.

Decipher any problems: If you are not seeing the improvements you’d hoped for, even after putting in a significant amount of effort, you may need to
look at your approach. It could be something simple and small that is potentially harming your budget. 

Make sure you look at your regular day-to-day expenses as many people don’t include these in their budget, but they can end up costing a lot over an extended period of time. For example, a takeaway coffee and lunch every day at work could end up costing you an extra $300 a month (based on a $5 coffee and $10 lunch, 5 days a week). 

Mini goals: Many people are caught up in the excitement of New Year’s and create resolutions on a whim without actually thinking about how they are going to achieve these goals or if they are achievable. 

Big goals such as paying off all of your debt can be a bit extreme to try and accomplish in one year. But, if you create smaller goals to achieve in smaller time periods, it may not be as overwhelming. For example, you may decide to pay off one credit card at a time.

Keep an eye on your progress: It is important you know where you stand financially before and during your progress to ensure you are on track. There is a virtual library of tools available online which can help you manage your money and also track your spending and saving.

The MoneySmart team have created a great app called TrackMySpend which tracks your personal spending. This is a great way to find all of the smaller expenses that you often forget about. 

There are also a range of State Custodians online finance calculators where you can create a budget and also establish a plan to reach your savings target.

Treat yourself: Being too strict on your budget right off the bat can have the opposite affect you were hoping for. Similar to dieting, if your budget is too tough, you may be more inclined to splurge on a spending spree. However, adding smaller changes to your budget may be more effective as it won’t impact your lifestyle as much as a complete budget makeover. 

If you do reach one of your financial goals, don’t be afraid to treat yourself. This doesn’t mean going out and buying a new TV or a new car, but something like enjoying a meal or coffee with friends can help keep you motivated to stay on track.

Anouska Linz is Manager, Online Sales at State Custodians and has over 10 years’ experience in financial services, both in broking and banking. Holding a bachelors degree in accounting, Anouska quickly discovered a love for mortgage lending and assisting people to achieve their home ownership goals. She leads a team of highly experienced lending specialists who are passionate about finding lending solutions which result in real wins for the customer. She is also a massive netball fan.

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