Tips to keep your financial resolutions

Did you know? Only 9 percent of people who make a New Year’s resolution keep it.1 But you can beat the odds. And if your resolution relates to finances, we can help you stay on track with these four specific financial goals.

 

Think SMART

Before you start pursuing goals, think about the way you set them. The more general they are, the easier it is to let them slide. Instead, make SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.

For example, rather than pledging to spend less, a SMART goal might be to reduce spending by a specific amount, like $50 per month. 

 

Goal: Save more

The easiest way to save money is to stash it away before you spend it. To do that, have money automatically sent to your savings account, such as through a direct deposit from your paycheck. Or treat saving like a bill and schedule a recurring transfer from your checking account to your savings every month. 

 

Goal: Reduce debt

The average U.S. household has $139,500 of total debt.2 Even if yours isn’t that high, you may be ready to bring your balances down with a SMART debt payment plan. 

One popular strategy is to identify your highest-interest balance and focus on eliminating it first. Continue making at least the minimum payments on your other debt. When the first balance is paid off, add that payment amount to what you’ve been paying on the next-highest-interest debt until it’s gone. Repeat the process until you’re comfortable with your debt picture. 

 

Goal: Consolidate 

Rather than paying off individual balances one by one, some people choose to roll all their balances into one lower interest home equity loan, personal loan, or credit card. To help ensure you get the best possible interest rate on whichever debt consolidation product you choose, make sure to check your credit reports and correct any errors before applying. 

 

Goal: Build a budget

Having a budget gives you a solid foundation for reaching your financial resolutions. To create one, start by tracking your expenses for about a month. You can write down your purchases or track them within Westfield Bank’s online banking.  

Once you know where your money is going, you can use those categories and totals to create a rough budget. Then compare your expenses to your income. If you’re spending more than you earn, review your expenses for ways to cut back.

It may help to consider some general guidelines. For instance, experts often suggest allotting 35 percent of your income to housing and utilities, 20 percent to savings, and 45 percent to discretionary spending, such as eating out, entertainment, clothes, and travel. 

 

Make it a winning year

These four goals may not reflect your own financial resolutions. Still, staying SMART with specific objectives and having a plan to achieve them can go a long way toward keeping you among the elite group that keeps their resolutions throughout the new year. 
 

Check out our savings calculator to compute the monthly deposit amount needed to reach your personal goals.

1 “New Years Resolution Statistics,” Statisticbrain.com, posted Jan. 1, 2017, https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/, accessed Dec. 7, 2017

2 “Household Debt Is Enslaving Americans,” Larry Alton, NASDAQ.com, posted May 22, 2017, http://www.nasdaq.com/article/household-debt-is-enslaving-americans-cm793135, accessed Dec. 7, 2017

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