We’re halfway through the first month of 2019, how are all those New Year’s resolutions going? It’s about this time a lot of us start to crack. The gym is seeming less important, we’re doing meal prep less diligently and we’ve started breaking budget juuust a little. You wouldn’t be alone in this, btw. In fact, according to The Guardian, 43% of us won’t make it passed a month.
Why? In a nutshell, because we’re not realistic with our New Year’s resolutions. A new year doesn’t indicate that we’ll suddenly become brand new people. Broad goals like ‘oh yeah I’ll totes save money’ are not motivating, and unrealistic goals like ‘I’m going to go from not working out at all to doing it 5 days a week’ is hard to live up to.
How To Reset Our New Year’s Resolutions
If any of this is ringing a bell, and chances are you’re here because you already knew your resolutions were in trouble, maybe consider a minor readjustment. According to Coaching Psychologist Anthony Grant writing for The ABC, reaching your goals is about setting ‘SMART’ resolutions in the first place. Yes, kids, it’s an acronym.
Your resolutions must be specific, eg. I will save X amount of money by making my own lunches. They must be measurable, like a dollar amount. They must be attractive, to you obviously, because if you don’t truly want it you’re just wasting your time. They must be realistic to your own situation and you need to stick a time-frame around it.
An IRL Person Who Made Their Resolutions Work
It’s all well and good to set out the theory, but if you’re anything like me you’re going to want a real-world example before you start believing it. Sarah Topjian, a Business Development Manager at Employment Hero, set herself a goal to buy an investment property last year, and yup, she did it. And yeah she’s 26, which is fine and good. But if an investment property is out of sight – and same, tbh, even with the dropping prices – it doesn’t mean her goal-setting process isn’t just as relevant for any goal you’ve got going.
She reckons that while she always set big goals for saving money, it was setting a purpose for her savings that really got her A into G. “Once I had a clear goal, the process of saving became much easier,” she explains. What are the 4 things that helped her set a SMART goal?
1. Setting A Realistic Goal
Not only does it need to be realistic, but you need to break larger New Year’s resolutions down so you have a clear pathway to get there.
“For example, if you want to save $10,000, break it down into small chunks,” says Sarah, “This might mean putting aside $500/month, meaning you could save $10,000 in 20 months. Have regular check in’s with yourself to make sure you’re on track.“
2. No Impulse Purchases
You know that guilt you feel after an impulse purchase, as you transfer that money you swore you were going to save this week back into your everyday account so you can buy groceries. Yeahhhh, just cut that out.
“Think twice about purchases. I used to be a terrible impulse buyer and I’d have items sitting in storage with tags still attached,” Sarah confesses, “What I do now is I ask myself a series of questions before I buy something. If it’s an item of clothing, I’ll ask, what will I wear this with? How many wears will I get out of this? Do I already own something similar? I’ll then take a photo (or screenshot if it’s online) and save it to a folder. I’ll go back to the folder a few weeks later and decide if I still want it or not.“
So basically, channel yourself some serious Marie Kondo vibes. Don’t even pretend like I’m the only one who watched one ep of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo and immediately tidied my whole bedroom…which yes is basically the only space I have that is my own. Sharehouse, amiright?
3. Decide Where You’ll Cut Down Spending
For a savings goal to be realistic, you need to know where that saved money will actually be coming from. Maybe it’ll be making your own work lunches, or cutting down on fashion purchases. You can only do this efficiently if you track your spending.
“I have a spreadsheet with all my spending categories so I can see what I spend the most money on and manage it efficiently,” explains Sarah, “You don’t need to go to that extent – a lot of banks can now do the categorising for you. Use these categories and choose what you want to spend on and what you can cut back on without reducing your quality of life.“
4. Value Every Dollar
Every discount you can squeeze out of life is worth it. Genuinely, one of life’s greatest pleasures for me is free or heavily discounted things. This doesn’t mean using sales as an excuse to buy things we don’t need but making sure we get the best deal on things that we do.
“Every dollar counts,” says Sarah, “I [use] the perks offered by my employer…when I put this money into my mortgage, I save an extra $30/year on interest. Be sure to look into what untapped offers are right at your fingertips.“