People don’t want my first piece of advice. They asked me how to fix their financial situation, I tell them. They push back with excuses and ask for another plan. Turns out people want my second best advice. Go figure.
Seeing as the year is winding down and you, like so many people, are contemplating a New Year’s resolution I’ll go ahead and give you my best piece of advice. I fully expect you to ignore this, but I just want to put it out into the world just in case someone decides to take it. Don’t make a New Year’s resolution about your financial life. For one, it means you are putting off something you don’t think is a big deal. As in, fixing your financial life is important but not important enough to start now. It can wait a few days or weeks or months. Secondly, a New Year’s resolution means you are going to try to do something for an entire year. Do we remember our resolution from last year? Of course we don’t. We gave those up in February.
Now, I’m going to give you my second-best piece of advice. This is the advice I hope you do truly take to heart. Go ahead and set a resolution…. for 31 days. Your goal is to set a resolution for the month of January. That’s it.
Make your resolution or goal specific. Not, I’m going to spend less or save more or “get it together.” Those don’t mean anything because you can’t measure your success at the end of the month. You goal needs to be specific. I will only spend $300 eating out this month instead of my usual $500. I will save $750 toward my kids’ college fund. These are goals you can take action on and then determine if you accomplished them at the end of the month.
Oh, and on the last day of the month, you’ll set a new resolution for February. And repeat.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.