1. Choose realistic goalsâ€¨
One of the biggest mistakes people make is choosing unrealistic goals. For example, if your annual income is $40,000, it's not realistic to want to pay off $35,000 worth of debt in one year without some very serious commitment. It's important to set your sights high, but only if you aren't setting yourself up for failure in the process.
2. Be specificâ€¨
By being as specific as possible in your goal, you will know exactly what you have to do to achieve it -- and when you've gotten there. Instead of saying, for example, "I want to put more money into my RRSPs this year," try creating a specific goal by saying, "I want to put $250 from each paycheque into my RRSP this year."
3. Create a plan
â€¨Resolving to change your financial health is the first step, but you need to create a plan to achieve your goal. If you intend to save at least two months' worth of expenses, how will you go about doing that? Figure out how much money you will need to save, and divide that amount by the number of paycheques you will receive during 2012. Then, set up automatic withdrawals from your chequing account each time you get paid. Taking the time to create a simple plan will ensure that you have a much higher probability of achieving your goals.
4. Tell other people about your goalsâ€¨
Telling friends and family members about what you hope to achieve makes your goals become real. The people you care about the most will be able to hold you accountable to your goals and provide support along the way. It might be a good idea to try to find someone in your life that has a similar goal. Working together provides motivation and a sense of camaraderie.
5. Review your goals oftenâ€¨
Take the time to review your goals on a weekly and monthly basis. This will help you stay focused on achieving them, and help you figure out which strategies are working for you -- and which aren't.
6. Have patienceâ€¨
Just like losing weight, getting financially fit does not happen overnight. It's easy to get discouraged right away, but that's when most people tend to give up and fall back into old habits. Whenever we work to change something in our lives, we are bound to stumble along the way -- so have patience. Don't give up if you don't see progress right away. It will come in time.
In order to be successful with your personal finance resolutions, you must be motivated to pursue them. Decide what your most important goals are, and spend time figuring out what you really want to accomplish in the New Year. Don't let this be another year where you break your resolutions.
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