Odds of winning the lottery or getting struck by lightning are better than the likelihood of keeping New Year’s resolutions, say many of the folks participating in a recent survey by Hampton Hotels. Want to increase the chances you’ll keep your financial resolutions in 2013?
Investors most commonly resolve to spend less, save more and pay down their debt levels, according to a November survey conducted by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner. Less affluent investors are more likely to focus on reducing debt, while more affluent investors tend to target spending.
How many of these investors will maintain their resolutions? One-fourth won’t make it past the first week, according to the website Proactive Change, and less than half will keep their resolutions beyond six months. What can investors do to increase the chances of staying on track? Here’s some expect advice:
· Put it in writing: Set realistic, measurable goals, such as a specific amount to save each month, and write them down advises Fifth Third Bank. A written plan helps investors visualize their goals, improves savings rates and reduces borrowing.
· Enlist support: Investors can improve their chances for success by sharing their goals with others. Sharing –via Facebook, Twitter, blogging or more privately with trusted friends – can keep investors on the straight and narrow. Support groups can also increase the likelihood of maintaining a resolution.
· Use online tools: Automatic deposits from a paycheck to a savings account can make it less tempting to spend, according to Fifth Third. Online bill payment systems enable investors to efficiently pay bills, avoiding late fees, and easily track account balances and day-to-day money flow. Data can also be downloaded to budgeting software.
· Avoid the pitfalls of credit cards: Investors can establish a good credit history by paying their credit cards in full each month, but credit cards often undermine financial resolutions. The Northwest Education Loan Association or NELA recommends limiting yourself to one or two credit cards, carrying them only when you are planning to use them, thinking twice before using a credit card to buy items on sale and using care when taking a cash advance on credit cards.
· Create incentives: Rewards can reinforce positive habits, according to Fifth Third. Investors who set aside a small amount of money to spend when they achieve certain targets are likely to work harder to maintain their financial resolutions.