I think I speak on behalf of all of us when I say I’m more ready for a new year than ever before. I’m usually quite a sucker for a fresh start, but heck have we ever needed one as badly as we do right now?
With a fresh start comes a new opportunity to become the considered, neat, organised and version of yourself that you always dreamed of being, and while I’m not keen on resolutions that attempt to change who you are – you’re fabulous already, baby – I’m big on the ‘progressively better’ approach. You can have a shit year and still get progressively ‘better’ in some way, and that’s why I like it.
New years are notorious for empty money resolutions. We decide we’re going to set some lofty goal of saving $10,000 with no real method behind it, and go balls-to-the-wall on saving for all of 18 seconds before life gets in the way.
No more. The buck stops here.
Here are my top tips on smashing your new year’s money resolutions – and some more info on a super fun January challenge I’m running to help you kickstart your 2021.
1. Get specific
An all-too-common mistake is simply saying you’ll “start saving money” or “spend less this year” without getting specific. Break down what you’re going to do, why you’re going to do it, and what will happen when you do it. There’s no point saying you’re going to stop buying shoes or you’re going to spend less on coffee. All those statements guarantee is that you’ll suddenly start seeing amazing shoes everywhere you look, and that you’ll be starting every week vowing to drink homemade coffee and ultimately get nowhere because the goal has no substance.
2. Get realistic
Once you’re ready to get specific with your goals, it’s also time to get realistic. Getting realistic is actually a great goal because it makes life a whole lot easier and more enjoyable than when you’re being unrealistic. If you want to save $20,000 this year, but you earn $50,000 in total before tax and have rent to pay, don’t ruin your life trying to save $20,000 (unless you’ve got a guaranteed way of living on very minimal money and possibly earning some on the side).
Work through your lifestyle first. Establish your non-negotiables, and then set goals in line with those. If you love your Friday night work drinks and will hate life if you don’t do them, make sure whatever goals you set allow for that thing you love first. Saying you’ll give it up is unrealistic, miserable and ultimately a lose-lose situation, because you either try to give it up and fail, or you do give it up and you miss out on something you love. Where’s the fun in that?!
3. Be prepared to do the work
In what sounds like a contradictory statement, you do need to remember to do the work. While I’m all for realistic, sustainable and life-appropriate goals that still allow you to have fun, there are some sacrifices that need to be made. What’s important is deciding what those sacrifices are going to be. Depending on your financial situation, there might be more notable sacrifices to be made, so be super clear on whether you’re okay with making them before you commit to a goal that requires that of you.
4. Go easy on yourself
Be prepared to fall off the wagon. Heck, be prepared to fall off and get dragged along by the wagon. What matters is getting back on track. When you set a goal, also come up with a reset plan – a little set of ‘rules’ for what you’ll do to course correct if you stuff up. That might be a week cold turkey on Uber Eats, or skipping out on your boujie workout class for a walk instead. Work out what actions you could take to hit the reset button on your progress and get back on track. You’ll feel more prepared than ever to tackle your high hopes.
5. Be dynamic and fluid in your approach
This one is super important. While you may have a strategy in mind for how you’ll achieve your goal – maybe you’ll get the bus to work instead of drive, just as an example – remember to stay dynamic in your approach. While that might work on paper, you might actually find that the bus is causing a 20 minute delay to your journey, which sees you grab a smoothie from the local café while you wait. In theory, you’re still smashing your goal because you’re getting the bus. But add on the cost of the green smoothie that was a one-time treat and accidentally became a habit, and you’ve cancelled out all your progress and added 20 minutes to your commute. Nasty.
To stay dynamic, it’s important to review your spending strategy each month (or quarter) to make sure your sacrifices are paying off and your savings are still on track.