The year is nearly halfway done. Are you on top of your financial resolutions? If not, it's time to get them back on track—or kick them up a notch—so you can head into 2019 stronger than ever.
It's easy to make resolutions as the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve. But keeping them? That's another story. As we approach the year's halfway point, it's the perfect time to check in on your financial resolutions. Ask yourself: What's working well (did you open a savings account, check your credit report or pay down your credit card even a little?) and can you do more of it? Next, look at what hasn't been working—but don't beat yourself up over it. If you're not meeting your financial goals, it isn't necessarily because you're lazy or undisciplined. There is, however, an underlying reason you need to identify and correct.
Five steps to refresh and revive your financial resolutions:
1. Focus on what's working and do more of it. If you've been regularly adding to your savings or paying off debts, congrats! Celebrate your success and challenge yourself to increase your contributions slightly.
2. Assess what isn't working and why. Make sure your goal is clear, achievable and aligned with your values and actions. Strive for progress, not perfection. Huge changes that aren't sustainable cause us to default back to old patterns. Reaching a goal is about making small, incremental changes. The process may take longer, but the results will last longer, too. Growth happens with consistent behaviour.
3. Course correct. Whether your goal is to save money or pay debt, if it's not happening fast enough—or at all—you have three options: Increase your income (think contract or part-time work, or odd jobs); reduce your expenses (cancel your cable subscription, make your own coffee, eat out less often); or both. Put the extra money toward your goal and relish the results.
4. Set up visual reminders. Saving for a big purchase? Put a photo of it on a vision board or set it as your smartphone's home screen. Track your progress and remind yourself of the motivation behind the sacrifice. Keeping your goals top of mind will make you less likely to stray.
5. Seek extra help. If you feel like you're lost in the forest and can't make much progress, consider your options: Connect with a nonprofit credit-counselling agency for free, unbiased information and advice; talk with a financial planner; or educate yourself through books, blogs and podcasts. As they say, knowledge is power, and it's a big step toward understanding and achieving financial goals.