New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Stick To

April 18th, 2019

We’re already off to a racing start in the year 2019, and while some people may have already ticked off our new year resolutions (kudos to you if you did!) the rest of us may need a bit of encouragement to get back on track.

The general consensus has shown that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February, so if your new gym shoes haven’t set foot on a treadmill yet or that online course has taken a backseat to day-to-day life, don’t beat yourself up.

Instead, let’s refresh and start by making resolutions you can actually keep, and which will allow you to track and measure your progress as you go along.

8 goals for the New Year

Setting realistic goals that matter to you gives you more of a chance of achieving your resolution. You may have the goal of buying your own home or having the wedding of your dreams, but may have cast it aside because it seems unrealistic from where you’re standing financially now.

Starting small will make progress more manageable and make it easier to reach your financial goals.

1. Save $1000 in 12 months

You can start by setting aside just $20 a week. Sounds easy, right? And what if we said that by the end of the year you should have $1000 saved without barely having realised you’re saving?

Here are 10 ways to save $20 a week

  1. Remember the 5-second rule – don’t fall for the impulse buy. Always practise the 5-second rule for small purchases and give yourself 24 hours to think about larger ones.

  2. Just give them a call – to reduce your bills. Look at your rate plans and make sure you are getting the best deal. Call them up. Remember if you’re calling a 1300 number make sure you use a landline to call them – if you use your mobile you’ll be charged for it.

  3. Walk, ride, run – and drive less. If you walk, take public transport, carpool or ride a bicycle, you won’t be throwing your money away to oil companies. Start with just one day a week and gradually build up to 4 or 5 days a week.

  4. Exercising outside is free – so cancel your gym membership. Google outdoor training exercises and create your own plan. Use objects around you to make it fun – sit-ups on the park bench, handstands on the grass, sprints along the pavement and then some yoga on the hill.

  5. Break the habit – eating out is passé. Packed lunches are where it’s at. Try to get out of the habit of spending money every day, especially on food and drink.

  6. Surf your way to financial freedom – replace a hobby that costs money with one that doesn’t. Try arts and crafts, writing a book, surfing, building a table or painting a picture. There may be a small start-up cost for your hobby, but you will save money in the long run.

  7. Do you really need the biggest and the best? Downsize. Next time you’re about to buy something, look at what you can afford to buy, then get the next cheapest one.

  8. Ever had the urge to start a business? Start small, make or do something your friends and workmates will buy or pay you for. It might make you enough to treat your mother to a bunch of flowers every now and then.

  9. Look away – when you pass shopping centres. If you have a history of spending money at Target, Bunnings, Sportsgirl and Kmart, etc, just don’t go there.

  10. Budgeting can be fun – if you’re using a budget planner. Map out your savings potential, figure out where your money is going and see how much you can afford to spend each week. There are heaps of free tools on budget planning, so find the one that works best for you.

2. Build a budget you can stick to

Budgets are a lot like diets. They’re tough to stick to and they usually don’t work unless you find one that suits you. And to get one that is the right fit you’ll have to put a bit of time looking into your 2017 spending habits.

First, use a budget planner to break your budget down, like this one. Now you have a clear map to assess what you spend money on and can start sorting them from most to least important.

What could you never live without? What are you willing to sacrifice? For example, cinema tickets versus wine with work colleagues. Perhaps you’ll realise that the movies help you relax and, to be honest, those weeknight hangovers are starting to take their toll.

Now everything’s in writing, you can shift things around feeling confident that it’s all accounted for. Tomorrow you might decide you really need a glass of wine and choose to forgo the cinema that month and suddenly you’ve got the skills of an organised accountant!

Our tip: don’t get down on yourself if your budget goes wrong initially. Instead, examine why it didn’t work and change your budget accordingly. Through this process, you get to learn a lot about your values and priorities, and you might just be surprised by how much of a self-awareness exercise this turns out to be.

3. Shape up your bills

Bills are boring but they are a part of life. However, a New Year ‘shake up’ of your monthly bills can be a great way to get more out of your finances and make the process a little less ‘ho-hum’.

Many people let things like their mobile plan, internet, electricity and other bills roll over without giving them much thought. But by doing so, they miss out on cheaper alternatives and huge discount opportunities.

Our tips will make you a haggle expert when it comes to your weekly bills:

  • Read the fine print and find a deal that suits you. There’s no point paying extra money if it is for things you’ll never use. For instance: how much internet do you actually use on a monthly basis? Do you really need an unlimited plan, or do you just feel like you do?
  • Do your research. Scan the cheapest options as well as what they offer. Find out what the competitors of your current provider are offering. Many competitors – particularly energy and internet providers – will offer a discount if you switch.
  • Most companies will offer incentives if you bundle your products, but make sure they’re offering enticements that you’ll actually take advantage of.
  • Before you agree to any deal let your original provider know you’re thinking of leaving so they have the opportunity to price-match.

4. Aim to have less ‘stuff’

Everything we’re surrounded by creates the feeling that the more we have, the happier will be. From magazines to television and social media, we are bombarded with things we don’t really need yet feel the need to have. But did you know, studies have proven that owning more stuff does not improve happiness and, in fact, it usually makes us miserable?

Enter minimalism, a new trend that has surfaced in response to the increasingly cluttered world we live in. I’m sure by now you have probably seen or heard about the Marie Kondo effect. Ms Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up may not have sparked the decluttering trend, but it sure has made it more mainstream.

Next time you have the urge to buy something, question where that urge came from. Do you need it? Could you live without it? Minimalism is good for the heart, good for the apartment, and especially good for the savings!

5. Talk about your finances

Almost one-third of Australians never talk about their finances with anyone. Money has become a taboo subject for some people, and one that can be very stressful and difficult to talk about. But by avoiding the topic, you are also blocking the opportunity to achieve your financial goals.

Speaking to others about your finances or financial difficulties is one way to become more motivated to learn about money and financial behaviour as well as to improve your financial situation.

6. Change your mindset regarding money

Get healthy, lose weight, improve your mental clarity and save money with the below ideas:

  • Ride your bike to work and you could save as much as $40 per week on public transport fees.
  • Cut back on booze, experience all of these benefits and save a fortune.
  • Reduce processed sugar. If you need motivation, just read up on all the reasons why processed sugar is bad for you. Swap the weekly chocolate & candy with a piece of fruit. You’ll be saving your health and your money.
  • Ditch the takeaway coffee for home-brewed coffee. You can purchase your own takeaway cups or a keep cup to store coffee in when you’re on the way to work.
  • Replace juice and soft drinks (see sugar-is-bad list) with water and lemon. If you miss the fizz, use an appliance such as a Sodastream (which also benefits the environment).
  • Instead of Netflix, read a book the next time you’re bored. It’s better for the mind and costs less. Borrowing a book from the library costs you nothing! And before you ask – YES, libraries still exist!!
  • Instead of going out for dinner to see friends, suggest a BYO picnic in the park.

7. Commit to a hobby that will improve your finances

The process of promising yourself you’re going to work on your health/career/love life/*insert dramatic life change here* and making a plan to achieve your goals is actually really valuable for continual self-development.

In many ways, hobbies can help us become more financially-sound by building upon our personal and professional skills which can then be transferred into a job, an enterprise, or an idea.

  1. Climb a rock. No, seriously. Do something outdoors that you have never done before (or haven’t done since being a kid!) You’ll have loads of fun and it might just leave you feeling like a complete badass.
  1. Sign up to an online study course. It could be as simple and easy as ‘boost your Instagram following in one hour’ or ‘easiest yoga poses to achieve at home’ through to learning a language at your local training organisation. Education is never a waste of time or money and will open many doors to future opportunities.
  1. Get creative. Paint a picture using your kids’ kindy paints or simply doodle on a blank piece of paper. You’ll be surprised how therapeutic it can be! Plus, finishing a project you’re proud of is the best feeling which can motivate you to get started on some of your bigger goals.
  1. Visit somewhere in your local area that you’ve never been. Pretend to be a tourist in your own town and you might be surprised by what you discover!  The best part is, you’ll find somewhere new to hang out on weekends.

8. Make happiness your most logical pursuit

We humans are simple creatures. Strip us down to our bare essentials and you’ll find that we just want to be happy. As long as the basic things, like food, water, shelter, and security are looked after, the next thing on the list is usually just being happy.

Unfortunately, the modern world gives us confusing messages about what ‘being happy’ actually means. It seems strange to ask, but do you really know what the things are that make you happy?

Focussing on happiness over earning money or buying new things might not sound like a financial New Year’s resolution but it does a few things that impact the way you spend your resources:

  • It leads to higher levels of satisfaction, lowering the impulse to spend money on things we don’t need when we’re bored or unhappy.
  • It gives us a greater perspective on what’s important in life, making it easier to follow through on some of the previous steps.

This is the hardest of our 8 tips to actually implement. ‘Finding happiness’ is not quite as straightforward as ‘building a budget’. But in our busy lives, it is sometimes important to remember that the most effective changes we can make are sometimes the simplest.

Check in on your New Year’s resolutions

Chances are good that you’ve accomplished a lot of things in your life that at one point in time, you thought you were incapable of. Think about some of those things. Some of them probably seem pretty insignificant now, right?

The new year’s resolutions that you’ve set for yourself will one day become just another drop in the ocean of your life (woah, deep). Don’t over-think things too much, or supersize your goals. Think of them as small things that you will get out of the way this year. Tiny, little things. Easy.

Achieve your financial new year’s resolution with Nimble.