The age-old list of New Year’s resolutions is common among most Americans. Eat less, learn more, play more, exercise more, and save more are fairly typical items on our lists. As you’ve probably witnessed though, most resolutions are left by the wayside before too many weeks have passed. It’s been three — are you still holding to yours?
One of the reasons our resolve gives, is that the resolutions are sometimes created as mere tasks without a clearly defined goal attached. What enjoyment do we get out of eating less? At least for me, the answer is “not much”. For resolutions to be meaningful and have a twinkling chance of success, the motivation for an end result should drive them. Therefore eating less shouldn’t be the resolution, but losing 15 pounds by July 4 or being able to fit into a certain size dress.
When it comes to money, the majority of people think that saving money is a worthy task, but it is so easy to venture away from that resolution. Saving money for the sake of saving money is not likely to be an extended successful venture. It is too difficult to withstand the onslaught of competing monetary demands without some other motivating factor. I have been a big money saver for years, but it is only recently that I have kicked it into hyper gear. The reason is that I now have a goal; a difficult, but worthy one nonetheless. My new goal for the family is to pay off our mortgage and be completely debt free within 6 years. We’ve only been in the house 4 years, but I want the freedom that comes from being completely debt free and that has made all my delayed gratification tasks that much easier to bear. By keeping our eyes on the “prize” the penny-pinching and budgeting becomes tolerable and even a little fun.
If you resolved to save money this year, consider changing that to a specific, achievable goal. For starters, I’ve given a list of goals that might make those tough money decisions a little easier.
- Buy your next vehicle with cash
- Develop a savings nest egg of $25,000 (or some other suitable amount)
- Pay off your home mortgage in 5 years (or some other designated time period)
- Pay for your child(ren)’s college education
- Buy a boat
- Take a 2-week vacation to Hawaii
- Buy a vacation villa in Hilton Head or some other beachy location
- Purchase that large screen television
- Save enough to invest in the stock market
- Retire at age 59
The above list is by no means exhaustive. There are hundreds of other worthy goals. The trick is to pick one that will really drive you. If you can make a goal the focus, saving money will be much easier.