Did you know that January 12th is what’s known as “Quitter’s Day”? That’s right, less than 2 weeks after you’ve celebrated the start to the New Year, statistics show that you are highly likely to abandon all of your New Year’s resolutions, including any resolutions you had about saving more and being smarter with your money.
You know what I say to that? Not this time! We are fast approaching not just a new year, but also a new decade. What better motivator to make some major changes in your life and actually stick to them. Now, I know this is easier said than done. As someone who was guilty of participating in Quitter’s Day for many years, I totally get it. But, I’ve been able to figure out the secret sauce for overcoming that January 12th hump, and I’ve been successfully able to save more, spend less and achieve my financial goals ever since. Here’s how I did it and how you can too!
1. Stop Calling Them New Year’s Resolutions
The first thing you need to do is stop using the term New Year’s resolutions. It’s too closely tied to the start of January and most importantly is a reminder of all those past failed attempts at making significant progress with your finances. Instead, start calling them financial goals. Goals are exciting, empowering and can be worked on year-round, not just at the start of the year. So go on, start calling yourself a #GoalDigger and get to work!
2. Write Them Down
This step may sound too simple, but the proof is in the data. In research conducted by Professor Katherine Milkman of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, she found that when study participants wrote down their tasks with times and dates attached to each of them, they were much more likely to actually follow through. If you want to realize your financial goals, then commit them to paper and give them specific timelines you want to achieve them in.
3. Chunkify Your Goals
Ever heard of chunkification? It means dividing things into digestible pieces. When you have some big financial goals, the road to reaching them can seem long and even impossible. For instance, if you have a goal to save up $5,000 for your Emergency Fund, that can seem like a daunting task. $5,000 is a ton of money! But, if you chunkify that goal by setting out to put $96 every week into a savings account, fast-forward one year and you’ll have reached your goal! Bonus points if you automate the process with your banking setup.
4. Give Yourself a Treat Yo’ Self Allowance
Speaking of automation, making things automatic isn’t just a great way to save and invest your money with little effort, it’s also a great way to help you spend within your budget. My tip is to have not one, but two chequing accounts. Use one as your main account, where money flows in on payday and then out to automatically pay your bills like your mortgage, utilities and credit card. As for your second chequing account, that’s where you’ll deposit a specific amount of money every payday (you can call it an allowance if you want) that you can use to spend on any non-essentials. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself, just as long as you know your limit and stay within it.
5. Cut Back on Anything that Doesn’t Add Value to Your Life
I’m not one of those money experts who believe that the only way to achieve your financial goals is by making big sacrifices, living super frugally and not spending any money. Spending money isn’t bad, we need to get rid of that narrative. Instead, we should be thinking more about how we spend our money. Is what we’re buying actually adding any value to our lives? If not, then that’s what we should be cutting out.
Don’t really watch TV? Then cut your cable package, you won’t miss it one bit. Not sure why you’re paying for two music streaming services? Pick the one you actually use and ditch the other. When you start taking a good look at your spending and start cutting out anything that doesn’t mean something to you, you’ll naturally start saving more money without it feeling like a big loss.
6. Use Tools to Help You Save on Groceries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. household spends $4,049 on groceries per year, and as per Statistics Canada the average Canadian household spends $5,934 per year on groceries. That breaks down to $337 per month and $494 per month respectively, and of course could be even higher depending on how big your household is and where city you live in. What this means is us North Americans are spending a big portion of our income on groceries, when we could be using some of those funds to help save for a trip, buy our first home, or even invest for retirement.
One simple solution for this is to use tools that are free and readily available to help you get what you need for a lower price point. Tools like Flipp a free planning and shopping app let’s you browse the local weekly ads, compare prices and clip items. What makes thing easier is that you can create your shopping list on the app and it will automatically round up the sales for every item you want to buy so you’ll know exactly where to shop for everything without putting in extra work.
To close out, achieving your financial goals is actually quite simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. But nothing worth achieving in life ever is. So, take this time right now to make a plan, check-in with yourself frequently to keep yourself accountable, and never stop trying. 2020 is your year, let’s make it happen!