Take a quick survey of the 2023 New Year’s resolutions of close friends and family, and two words are likely to bubble to the surface: more and less.
“I want to look at my phone less this year.”
“I want to exercise more.”
“Eat less junk food.”
“Spend more time with my friends.”
Money matters often make the lists – spend less, save more. Or invest more, squander less. But as we discussed last week, a resolution that lacks specificity or measurement is difficult to achieve. This year, if money-related matters or more or less are on your mind, consider these strategies for making your financial resolutions specific and measurable:
Save a specific amount in a specific period of time
Depending on your age and income, a resolution to “save $1000 this year” could feel daunting. But broken down into smaller goals, the ten-Benjamin goal could be surprisingly achievable. Consider the weekly goal – just $20 per week, with 2 weeks to spare. Or perhaps the daily amount is easier to stomach: $2.74. If you find just one daily opportunity to squash your urge to splurge on a $3 item, a cool thousand could be yours at year-end.
Trade a specific line-item for savings on autopilot
David Bach’s book Automatic Millionaire makes the case for taking your goals out of your emotional hands into the code of a scheduled transfer. Want to save $25 per month? Set up an auto-transfer with your bank to make it so. Want to invest $100 per month? Set up a scheduled trade with a low-cost trading platform like Robinhood.
Hack recurring transactions for multiplied impact
Our subscription economy has an effect intended by companies but unintended by consumers: expenses we might have considered one-by-one twenty years ago (like purchasing an album) are now made on autopilot (e.g. Amazon Music or Spotify). 1999’s Blockbuster rental is now a monthly Netflix or Hulu subscription. Even book purchases can now be made monthly (like Kindle Unlimited). The result? Seemingly small monthly transactions of $9.99 add up to big annual sums. One rapid way to achieve your goals to spend less and save more? Slash some subscriptions. Take a look at your bank account, or better yet, use a tool like Rocket Money to uncover recurring charges and slash away. Just think: if you can find $30 in monthly subscriptions, a $360 plane ticket could be within reach by Christmas.
The bottom line? Think slow and steady.
The key to making your financial goals a reality is to consider the total impact of small decisions made regularly. Trading a recurring subscription for a recurring investment could have major implications once you harness the power of compound interest.
So this year, take your money goals to the next level: make them specific, make them measurable, and make them automatic.
Interested in learning more about the power of compound interest? Check out our online money course for teens, “How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000!”