You are in good company if you made a New Year’s Resolution around money this year. More than half of us did.  According to a recent Fidelity Survey, for the third year in a row, four of the top five resolutions are money related.

So, how do you make them stick? According to a Virgin Mobile survey, 52% of us can’t last more than one month,  and only 8% of us actually reach our goals.  Yuck!

Source: Fidelity 2014 New Year Financial Resolutions Study

So – is it worth even bothering to make a resolution? You bet! A University of Scranton paper shows that people who make clear and specific resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals.

With stats like that, it is worth a shot.  Follow these five steps to make a resolution you can stick to and rock it out in 2014!

Aim for something you really want

That may seem really obvious, but many people make a resolution about what they DON’T want instead of what they do want. Be crystal clear on what you DO want. Word your resolution in the positive.  Instead of “I don’t want to be in debt.” try “I will live within my means and pay my credit cards to zero.”

Think about why it is important to you and how it will change your life.  Being clear on why you want it and what it will do for you will help you stick to it.

Pick a date and time for your goal to be achieved

When you add a date and time to a dream it changes it into a goal.  Being specific about accomplishing your goal by a certain date and time makes it real.  That clarity gets your brain working on creative ways on how you can achieve that goal even faster.

“I will have $10,000 saved in my emergency account by December 31st, 2014 at 5 pm.”

Write them down and post them where you can see them daily. Share your goals with the people in your life who will support you.

Chunk it down

A big goal can feel daunting and can make us want to quit before we even get started.  Break a big goal down into smaller chunks that you can tackle one at a time.  If your goal is to get out of debt, your chunked down goals might be to following:

  • Tally-up all my debt – What do I owe? What is the interest being paid?
  • Get information about debt repayment strategies – what is the best/fastest/easiest way?
  • Plug my debt into a debt calculator
  • Figure out how much I have to pay each month to reach my goal
  • Set up automatic payments

By breaking the goal down into steps, you get to celebrate many smaller successes, keeping you on track and out of overwhelm.

Layer it up

“You can’t have it all. You have to give something up to get something else.” ~ Larry Winget

Consider what you will have to change to get what you want. If you want to save for a big family holiday, you may choose to give up the shorter weekends away or one of the kids’ activities, putting that money away for your trip.  You might also have to give up habits like believing that you can’t do it, impulse shopping or buying to make others happy.

Choose one new behaviour per month to support your goal.  By the end of the year you will have 12 new choices and habits ingrained in your life and will be way closer to your goal.

Get some help

We often don’t start big projects because we don’t know where to start.  If you are having trouble getting going, chunking it down or layering it up you might just be missing some information or support that you need.

The challenge with money goals is that we just don’t talk about this stuff with our friends and often even our family.  Consider opening the conversation – they likely would appreciate it.  Consider finding a Money Meet-Up Group or Debtors Anonymous group. Ask a trusted friend or work with a money coach.  Get the information, support and help you need to be really successful.

Reward yourself

Don’t let your successes go unacknowledged.  Set up specific rewards for mileposts on your journey to your goal.  Be sure to choose rewards that don’t undermine your goal.  Rewarding yourself for paying down debt by going on a spending spree isn’t helpful.

Plan your reward in advance to increase the anticipation and to set aside the money to actually do it. Plan a fun outing with friends or family, or buy something specific for a set price works.

You can do this! Use these tips to rock out your 2014 resolutions and enjoy the fruits of your hard work.  Of course, the beginning of the New Year is a great time to make resolutions, but you can do this any time in the year.  Decide what you want, get the tools you need and go for it!

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Personal finance expert, Karen Collacutt is founder and CEO of Make Friends with Your Money.  Karen works with ambitious people who are making good money but are wondering where it all went at the end of the month. She helps her clients to get clear on their money life challenges and opportunities, matching their money to their goals.  They build a plan, confidence and peace of mind around their money. Certified Money Coach and Certified Financial Planner, Karen brings over 15 years of finance and business experience to her clients. Coach, speaker, author and change catalyst for those ready to create a positive and empowered money life, Karen delivers a fresh perspective on how to make friends with your money.

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