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Some Reading for a New Year: How to Set Financial Goals and Stick to Them

Ready to set some goals for the new year? Studies show that written goals are much more likely to be achieved. There is also a service that will help you put a little cash on the line for some extra motivation!

Some Reading for a New Year- How to Set Financial Goals and Stick to Them

The end of the year is a time of hope … we look forward to next year, often with the intentions of making it better than the last. It’s also a time of reflection, and for those in control of their finances (like all of us in the Money Under 30 community), it’s an opportunity to especially think about how we fared financially this year.

Did you slash some of your debt? Did you cut back on spending? Did you pick up a second job for extra income?

I hope everyone can pat themselves on the back for at least one great step this year. Whatever efforts you were able to make, cheers and congratulations.

While this year wraps up, we’re setting our sights with hope on next year — whether it be setting a career goal, getting out of debt, or simply staying on track with the great financial habits we’ve been developing until now.

My financial aspiration for next year is to put myself in the best position possible to begin paying off my student loans when I graduate in June. I’d love to hear about all of your goals in a comment, too.

As we ponder what we want to accomplish this year, we may start to sift through lots of articles about New Year’s resolutions and financial planning. It can be overwhelming, so I’ve done a bit of reading and picked out some of the best ones. I hope you’ll learn as much from this round-up as I did.

1. On setting financial goals: Do you find it hard to make your financial goals seem doable? In this article from Money Management International, we learn it’s important to be on the same page with your spouse. Then set short, mid, and long range goals.

Once you know what your goals are, you need to fund them. Figure out how much money you can set aside each month for your goals and start saving. You will probably have more goals than money. Prioritize your goals and start saving for the most important first.

2. On investing: As I’m still getting established, next year won’t likely be a big investing year for me. But if you’re in a position to start (or continue) investing, check out this article from MarketWatch about 7 big investment ideas for next year.

3. On cutting back: Can you cancel a service you didn’t really use in this year? Could you stop getting charged for ATM fees?

The year-end can be a good time to evaluate those little expenses that add up, as suggested in this article from USA Today. It offers 13 money-saving tips for next year, and they’re all quick and fairly simple. My favorite was tip No. 9. It says people could be getting reimbursed for more medical expenses if they’re using a flexible spending account … on average each individual loses $138 unnecessarily.

Try some of these USA Today tips, and start next year with an eye on ways you’re spending (or missing out on) money unnecessarily.

4. On making our goals stick: No New Year’s resolution is worthwhile if it doesn’t last —if you want some extra motivation check out On you set  your goal and then add your stakes. The stakes are dollar amounts charged automatically to your card if you don’t meet your weekly goal. You can send the money to a friend, to a charity, or even to an “anti-charity”. An anti-charity is a charity you hate. Imagine having to send $10 to a political campaign of a politician you hate every time you skipped the gym!

stickK says their research shows that people who put real money on the line are much more likely to stick with, and complete, their goals!

What are your goals for the upcoming year? Money Under 30 wants to help you get there. Let us know in the comments, and we’ll be sure to cover the topics that interest you the most.

Published or updated on December 31, 2012

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About Maria LaMagna

Maria LaMagna is a recent graduate of Northwestern University where she served as editor-in-chief of the university’s award-winning daily newspaper and studied for five months in Argentina. Before joining Money Under 30, Maria worked as a reporter for CNN and the Indianapolis Business Journal. Follow Maria on Twitter @MCLaMagna.


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  1. David says:

    Well for me and the wife we paid all our debt off this month. Now we are focused on 6-8 months of EF. That being a mix of cash and some silver and gold bars. Well cash for sure not sure on the bars. But I feel bad as we stopped contributing to our Roth. We stopped contributing in Nov to pay off debt faster. Now it’s going to take me about 10 months to save for the EF. So that would be about a total of a year with no money going toward retirement. But we decided to do this after reading Dave’s Ramsey’s book. It works well seeing all are money goes to one set goal at a time.

    • Mark says:

      You don’t need 6-8 months EF before contributing to your Roth IRA, because you can withdraw the principal from your Roth IRA with no penalty, you can use your Roth IRA as a backup emergency fund. I wouldn’t touch it until you have used up all your other emergency fund sources, but it will make sure you make your contributions. Once you pass up the contributions you can never get them back.

      • David Cole says:

        I thought that the reason to have a seperate EF account was so it was liquid assestes. This way I dont have to fill out some form, hoping that they will process it in time for me to need the money. Any one else have any input on this.

  2. Sara says:

    My goal for the year is to get out of credit card debt (or at least get all of my cards under 20% utilization)! I’ve just set a goal into my budget, and set automatic payments that will take money out of paycheck and send it right to the cards. Here’s hoping that no emergencies come up that will force me to lower a payment. I should be debt-free by December!

  3. Last year I did not make firm goals but vowed to save more, spend less and reduce debt. This year I have made much firmer goals based on a new budget I spent a lot of December developing. Before I developed the budget I reduced expenses by negotiating with my communications providers and exchanging emails with my bank. Much money was saved and without much effort.

    I want to reduce my debt by $6000 this year. My income is low and $6000 is 18% of my net. Still 3 years to go before I am out of debt and focused on saving for retirement.

  4. Mike says:

    For the investments point, I think that dividend growth will be an important indicator this year. A company that pays dividends is a good choice when the markets are a bit fragile.

    I also think that the third point is important. For example, my resolution for this year is to stop paying for things that I don’t use anymore. Keeping track of things like is not that hard but it can be a considerable expense.

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