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5 Reasons It Is So Difficult to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

5 Reasons It Is So Difficult to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Most of us start the year with high hopes for the health of our bodies, minds, careers, and — of course—bank accounts. But you probably don’t need a statistician to tell you that when it comes to keeping your New Year’s resolutions, the odds are stacked against you.

A popular study published in the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology found that while nearly half of Americans usually make resolutions, just 8% are successful in keeping them, and about one-quarter report that they fail to meet their goals year after year.

[Are you ready to become debt-free in 2018? MagnifyMoney has created a FREE online guide to help you get out of debt.] 

Why do these plans fall apart so easily? We talked to two certified financial planners to find out what held people back from sticking to their self-improvement plans in years past — and what can be done to overcome these obstacles in 2018.

No. 1: Your resolutions are unrealistic or unclear.

Vague, lofty goals like “lose weight” or “save money” can do more harm than good; undefined targets can leave you overwhelmed and discouraged when you don’t immediately succeed. That’s why resolutions should start small, according to Kristen Euretig, certified financial planner and founder of Brooklyn Plans in Brooklyn, N.Y., a company specializing in helping today’s women with their finances. “Take into account a realistic but ambitious goal that can be achieved in a year and would be forward momentum toward an even larger goal,” says Euretig. “Buying a house may be too much to tackle in a year, but saving the first 10% of a down payment could be a realistic starting point that would also be quite an accomplishment.”

Another trick to keep you from getting overwhelmed? Be as specific as possible. Euretig recommends breaking up big resolutions into defined subgoals with set deadlines. Rather than resolving to pay off student debt, says Euretig, start by figuring out if your payment plan is working to your advantage. That way, you’ll better understand the time and effort required to reach your goal and appreciate any incremental progress along the way.

No. 2: Your resolutions don’t align with your needs or lifestyle.

Ever find yourself rationalizing your way out of a behavioral change? Maybe you can’t go to the gym today because you have important errands to run, or you neglect that book on your nightstand because there is a movie on Netflix you’ve been meaning to watch. Your reasons may be legitimate, but using them as a means of abandoning your self-improvement plan is detrimental to you in the long term.

Melissa Ellis, certified financial planner at Sapphire Wealth Planning in Overland Park, Kan., knows that a thorough understanding of your current behaviors and lifestyle can help you anticipate the setbacks you will face throughout the year and think up solutions that will keep you on track when challenges arise. If your goal is to max out your Roth IRA, Ellis notes, you need to make sure you have the discretionary income to make it happen; if you know at the start of the year that you’ll have to cut back somewhere else in your budget (like your take-out habit) to find the extra money, you’re more likely to stick to the plan.

No. 3: You sacrifice your future well-being for your present happiness.

Most of us treat our future self as a different person. Unfortunately, it’s often a person we don’t seem to care much about. This phenomenon — our willingness to sacrifice our future well-being for immediate gratification — is called myopia temporal discounting. It’s one reason why many people continually put off diets, start saving for retirement later than they should, or rack up credit card debt for items or experiences they can’t afford. In fact, credit cards are the ultimate trap for people who like to live in the present vs. think about the future.

“It’s easier to put off the intangible, because it’s not an immediate need,” says Ellis. Try connecting with your future self by visualizing what you would like your life to look like at age 40, 60, or 75, and think about what steps, however small, you can take today to make that vision a reality.

The Time Personality Quiz - Be Well Versed In Your Financial Future

You should know your financial personality — that is, how you perceive time and how that perception impacts your financial  habits — before you make any financial resolutions. The better you understand your strengths and weaknesses, the more likely you will be to succeed.

Take the Time Personality quiz here > 

No. 4: You don’t hold yourself accountable.

Can you remember what your resolutions for last year were? It typically only takes about three weeks for most of us to get back into our old routines and forget all our intentions for the new year, especially if you don’t have a time frame for achieving the goal or a way to measure your progress.

“The best way to stick to resolutions is to make them real and to hold yourself accountable,” says Euretig. “Write goals down. Make a vision board. Put a picture of the vision board as the wallpaper of your phone. Share your resolutions with an accountability partner who you can check in with along the way or with your social media community.” Setting aside time each week or each month to check in with yourself about your success will help you remember the resolutions throughout the year. If you need an extra boost, tap a friend or family member who can help remind you to stay on track or, even better, join you on the journey.

No. 5: You forget to reward yourself.

It’s easy to lose motivation as the year goes on and you settle into old routines. Any sense of urgency goes away, and you can end up putting off behavioral changes indefinitely until it’s January again.

That’s why Ellis recommends rewarding yourself throughout the year if you are successfully sticking to your resolution. If you meet your goals of, say, paying off a department store credit card, maybe buy yourself a pair of shoes — but be sure to do it in cash, so you’re not buying something you can’t afford and racking up more debt. “It’s something concrete you can look at to remind you that you have made a change,” Ellis says.

Whether your goals are about money, your career, relationships, or fitness, it’s important to remember that good things typically don’t come easily. Taking time to set the right goals, define an execution plan, and regularly track your progress will make sticking to your resolutions a little less painful — and a lot more likely to happen.

Are you ready to become debt-free in 2018? MagnifyMoney has created a FREE online guide to help you get out of debt.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Adrianna Gregory
Adrianna Gregory |

Adrianna Gregory is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Adrianna here

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Time Perspective

4 Tips for Financial Balance When You’re Future Focused

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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When I took MagnifyMoney’s Time Personality Quiz, my results got a little sassy with me. “Even your mom probably tells you to live a little,” they said snidely. (Okay, they didn’t say anything snidely but I couldn’t help but imply the tone.)

But the thing is, those results are accurate. I’m extremely future-focused when it comes to both time and money. That means I delay gratification today so I can save more for tomorrow – to the point where I’ve admittedly missed out on worthwhile opportunities because I wanted to invest my money instead of spend it.

“A balance of focus on the future with a dash of living life to the fullest in the present will help keep your mind and bank account well balanced,” advised my results from the Time Personality Quiz. I think they’re right – and that I could be doing a little better with that whole balance thing.

Are You Future Focused?

You might be too future-focused yourself if you’ve ever been afraid or stressed about spending money, even when you had the cash in the bank. Your focus on future goals may leave you neglecting your present wellbeing if you haven’t taken a trip for fun in years, or bought something new for yourself, or invested in different experiences.

You may also be too future-focused if you can relate to one of my worst habits, and one I’m trying hard to break this year. I hate to say it, but more than a handful of times I’ve caught myself wishing away the present because I wanted to hurry up and achieve a future goal.

Because financial independence is a big goal, I tend to periodically catch myself thinking, in just 10 more years I’ll get to do X, Y, and Z [that I’m putting off now] because I’ll be financially independent!

It’s easy to get caught up in all your big future plans and miss out on enjoying the present as it happens when you’re too future-focused.

It’s Not All Bad News!

This is not to say being mindful of the future is a bad thing. It’s important to think about your future stability and security, and to have a plan for how you’ll achieve your big, long-term goals.

But the goal should be, as my Time Personality Quiz results reminded me, finding a balance between enjoying and appreciating the present while saving and investing for the future.

My resolution for 2015 was to allow myself to live more in the present in order to find more balance. Here are the action steps I’m taking to help me achieve this and develop a better mindset about time and my financial goals.

Practice Gratitude

The quickest way for me to stop stressing about financial goals and what I can do right this minute to achieve them: practice gratitude. Nothing grounds me in the present faster than taking a moment to ask myself, what good things happened last week? What can you appreciate about your finances and your situation today?

This helps me change my thought process and patterns. Before, I thought about financial independence and what I can do to get there even faster.

I’d start thinking of ways I could save more money, earn more money – and then I’d cut back on something small that I could have enjoyed in the present (like attending an event) or I’d spend the next week working as many hours as I could to earn more money.

Now, I think about financial independence and I appreciate that it will realistically take me at least 10 more years to achieve it. Then I go grab a notebook and write down all the good things that happened last week, all the things I’m happy about today, and everything that I’m looking forward to doing in the next week.

This helps me stay grounded and focused on what’s happening now. I’ve done what I can to get myself set up for my big financial goal, and the only factor missing now is consistent action over time. Instead of wishing away that time, I’m practicing gratitude and not taking any day for granted.

Keep a Close Eye on Your Budget

My budget is a helpful tool when it comes to reining in my future-focused mindset. It allows me to track my spending, both on necessary expenses and discretionary purchases.

At the end of the month, I can see exactly where my money went. I know how much I saved, how much I had to pay for bills, and how much I spent on wants.

This enables me to do two important things:

  • Understand exactly how much money is usually available for spending on fun stuff, so I can allocate some money for present spending without feeling guilty or stressed
  • Celebrate the amount I put into savings and investments

Balancing the present with the future doesn’t mean I can’t get excited about the progress I make on a regular basis, and a budget helps highlight that for me. I can allow myself to feel happy about those future goals I’m working toward – but I can also see that I do have a set amount of cash I can put toward enjoying life today, too.

Prioritize Wants and Needs

Thanks to practicing gratitude and appreciating what I do have, I find that I want less stuff on a day to day basis. This makes it really easy to forego a lot of little things – and allows me to prioritize wants and needs according to what I truly value.

I prioritize travel, books, and new experiences. When I want to enjoy one of these things, I do not allow myself to feel guilty about it. This ties into keeping a budget: because I track my finances carefully, I know I have a set amount to spend on things simply because I want to.

This makes it easier to allow myself to make purchases that, before, I would have agonized over. I save for wants that I value and prioritize above all others, and then spend on those things in the present – without feeling guilty about it.

I also do this intentionally. I still avoid impulsive purchases so I’m not stuck with things I don’t need (or even want!) and a whole lot of buyer’s remorse.

Have a Plan

It’s hard to stop worrying and focusing on the future when you have no clue what the heck it looks like. Sure, no one has a crystal ball and there’s no telling what any one of our tomorrows could bring.

But you can create a plan that you want to follow and enjoy. This helps give some structure to your time – and once you set up your plan and automate your action steps, that means you can worry less about the future and enjoy today more.

My plan is, as I mentioned, to reach financial independence. Once I achieve this milestone, I want to live abroad and travel frequently.

After crunching the numbers, I know I need to invest at least $2,000 per month for the next 10 years to reach financial independence. As long as I’m doing this, I’ll achieve my goal. I can then automate my investment contributions – and use the rest of my time to focus on making my present just as great as I’m working to make my future.

I’m finding more balance with living in the present moment while still taking care of my financial future by practicing gratitude, keeping a budget, prioritizing my wants and needs, and creating a plan I can automate. You can take these steps to focus on that balance between your present wants and your future needs, too.

Discover how your time-perspective impacts your relationship with money! 

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Kali Hawlk
Kali Hawlk |

Kali Hawlk is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kali at [email protected]

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Time Perspective

Are You Healthy Because of Your Financial Habits?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Credit Check 1

Yes, you are healthy because of your financial habits. Or at least that’s the conclusion of a recent study the New York Times highlighted by researchers from the Olin Business School at Washington University.

They found that the people who decide to contribute to 401k plans are more likely to act on poor health indicators, even when adjusting for factors like income and initial health levels. They showed improvements in negative blood test results 27% more often than those who don’t contribute to 401ks.

They say it’s because of an “underlying individual time-discounting trait” – which makes perfect sense to us.

Our recent global study of time personality and money decisions with Dr. Philip Zimbardo supports that time perspective has a profound impact on personal finances.

Dr. Zimbardo’s Time Perspective Inventory measures five dimensions, which explain our individual views of time. And these drive every action we take.

They are:

Past positive: Our degree of positive memories

Past negative: Our degree of negative past memories

Present hedonism: Enjoying the present

Present fatalism: Having a feeling of helplessness

Future orientation: Acting on future outcomes

People who aggressively contribute to 401ks are future oriented.

They spend disproportionate amounts of their time thinking about and acting on things that they perceive will better their futures.

That naturally includes things like 401k contributions and following doctors’ orders when a test comes back with a negative result.

But is being future oriented the best thing for your finances?

It’s rare that contributing to a 401k is a bad thing in itself.

But we have found that future oriented people don’t have materially better financial acumen or outcomes, at least when it comes to avoiding the most damaging pitfalls – bankruptcy, foreclosure, and late payments (we did not explore investment returns).

That’s in part because future oriented people may be tempted into other, riskier investment vehicles that may lose them money. Such as choosing to buy a home they will ‘grow into’ that they later cannot afford, or chasing stock picks.

They may also be more prone to buying more insurance than they really need, siphoning cash away from everyday necessities.

Rather, a balanced time perspective that has some heightened level of future orientation is healthy. But extreme levels can undermine impact.

The researchers say that time traits are difficult to change.

And while it is challenging, we don’t believe it’s impossible.

The first step to change is an understanding your own time personality and its dominant traits.

You can take our quiz to find out your own time personality at MagnifyMoney.com/timeperspective.

You’ll get tips on how to avoid the traps that financial products use to prey on your time personality type, and that awareness can put you on a path to better health, financially and personally.

Have questions for us? Get in touch via TwitterFacebook, email [email protected] or in the comment section below!

 

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Brian Karimzad
Brian Karimzad |

Brian Karimzad is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brian at [email protected]

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