19 Money Resolutions To Make In 2018, According To Finance Experts
Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. Bustle's Get Money series gets real about what millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your finances should feel empowering, not intimidating.
When it comes to New Year's resolutions, people make them in all kinds of categories: fitness, career, hobbies, relationships, you name it. One that should definitely make the list is money New Year's resolutions. Just like with anything else, taking small steps is key, and all those small steps will lead to big progress.
"Like any type of New Year's resolution, financial resolutions can be extremely helpful, but only if the person is committed," Mike Brown, Research Analyst at LendEDU, tells Bustle. "For example, only 28.6 percent of our 1,000 respondents set a financial resolution last year, and from that cohort, less than half, 44.76 percent, met or exceeded their goal. Judging from our data, it appears that most people that are making a 2018 financial resolution are focused on either budgeting their expenses or saving money for a large purchase, like an automobile. This is excellent news! As long as financial resolutions are followed and fulfilled, they can have a trickle-down effect that improve other aspects of a consumer's life. For example, if Americans make a concentrated effort to stick to a budget, they will soon see that their budgeting has allowed them to save extra money for those miscellaneous purchases that they always wanted, but could not afford."
That said, I'm sure you and I can think of plenty of money resolutions to make for 2018, from little ones (i.e., eat out less) to bigger ones (i.e., save for a down payment on a house). Here are 19 money resolutions that finance experts recommend making, and you can probably think of a few of your own to add to the list, too.
1. Create A List of Goals
"Name three financial goals that you want to achieve in the New Year and that are feasible, and write them down. Writing down and clarifying your goals will motivate you to take the steps to achieve them. Limiting yourself to about three goals will allow you to prioritize and focus on what's most important to you." - Marshay Clarke, Licensed Financial Expert at Betterment
2. Make *Specific* Goals
3. Change One Money-Spending Habit That Won't Break You
"Think of one habit you need to break that won't break you. Do you order a medium coffee every day and really only drink half of it? Order a small. Can you bring lunch to work one day a week? Do you need dry cleaning delivered? Is it cheaper/relatively easy to just pick it up?" - Chantel Bonneau, a top financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual
4. Keep Tabs On Your Credit Score
"Learn how to read your credit report and ensure you have a good understanding of your credit score — you can only work to improve your credit if you understand how. Then, target your trouble spots, as several factors can affect your credit (payment history is the most influential factor affecting your score). Sign up for a free credit monitoring system and keep an eye on alerts and updates. The sooner you spot an error on your credit report, the easier it will be to keep it from affecting your credit profile long-term. This will also help you combat identity theft, as data breaches exposing sensitive information are becoming more and more prevalent." - Adrian Nazari, CEO of Credit Sesame
5. Assess What Money Habits Are Helping You Reach Your Goals
"I highly recommend that Millennial women make a resolution to spend money on things that matter most to them in 2018. Before they do that, they will need to look at their current spending patterns and understand what is helping them reach their life goals and what is not. In my book Girl, Get Your $hit Together #adulting YOUR way, I teach the Millennial woman how to do that." - Lisa Chastain, Money Expert and Mentor for Millennial Women
6. Save More, Spend Less
"The top New Year's resolution for Millennials planning to make a resolution for this next year is saving more and spending less. A great way to achieve this goal is to set a weekly budget and sticking to it. To avoid overspending on your everyday expenses, take advantage of digital budgeting apps that will keep tabs on your credit and debit spending." - Jason Gaughan, Credit Card Executive, Bank of America
7. Start A Side Hustle
"One big New Year's resolution I think Millennial women should make is around creating a side hustle/side stream of income. So often I hear resolutions and advice around constraining our budgets, when really I think we're at a point where this generation can really make as much as we want to if we're willing to think outside the box." - Laura Sprinkle, a Millennial entrepreneur who helps women grow their revenue and income
8. Have A No-Spend Day
9. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
"Quit the comparisons. You look on social media and see your friend's new car or their vacation to a tropical beach, and you start to compare your life to theirs. Comparisons steal your joy — and your paycheck. So focus on living your best life, and forget the FOMO." - Rachel Cruze, #1 New York Times best-selling author and personal finance expert
10. Automate Part Of Every Paycheck
"Automate part of your paycheck to your savings. If you can get used to having part of your paycheck automatically deposited into a separate account, whether it's $50 or $200 a week, saving money will become a no-brainer. You'll start saving money in no time, and by the end of the year, you'll have a healthy savings account." - Jamie Wharton, Marketing Coordinator at Earnest.com
11. Use A Savings App
"There are a number of apps available that have made saving more of a 'set it and forget it' concept and force you to save regularly. One of my favorites is Digit.co, which analyzes your bank account and spending patterns. The software looks at your daily checking account balance, learns your spending habits, and automatically moves small funds to your Digit account to increase savings. The amounts vary depending on your checking balance and spending habits for that day/week/month." - Chad Parks, Founder and CEO of Ubiquity Retirement + Savings, a 401(k) platform
12. Have A 401(k) And Match If You Can
"Take advantage of your company's 401(k) and match, if it's offered. The match is literally free money! Many recent graduates working entry-level jobs feel they're too poor to invest for retirement, but a 5 percent match (which is common) on a $30,000 salary is only $125 a month. You likely won't even notice it, and over the course of years, the compound interest can work wonders." - Cal Cook, Consumer Finance Investigator, ConsumerSafety.org
13. Minimize Mindless Spending
"A good habit to develop in 2018 is to take on a more mindful approach to spending. Start by going cash-only for a few weeks: Think about your weekly expenses, go to the ATM, and get cash just to cover the week. It'll wake you up to where you might be wasteful with your spending (e.g., car ride-sharing services, daily coffee pick-me-ups at your local shop, etc.)." - Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, Board Chair and President, Charles Schwab Foundation
14. Pay Off Your Credit Card In Full Every Month
"The one thing all Millennials should make as their New Year's resolution is to stop taking on additional consumer debt. It's easy to run up our credit cards (especially during the holidays), but this can quickly put you behind the 8-ball, causing you to run on a neverending hamster wheel as you work to pay off your credit card bill, only to purchase more 'things' on the same card. The New Year's resolution should be, 'Pay off your credit card bill in full every month.'" - Evan Tarver, Financial Analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com
15. Use Credit Card Rewards
"Credit card rewards are often times overlooked, especially by Millennials, which leads to the average shopper missing out on over $200 a year in credit card rewards by using the wrong cards. While cutting unnecessary spending should be a priority to save money, shopping for essentials is inevitable. To make every dollar count, Millennials should review their credit card rewards programs and assign which cards to use for certain purchases." - Alex Cohen, CEO and Co-Founder of Birch Finance
16. Pay Off Your Loans
"Don't wait any longer to start paying off your loan! From credit cards to student loans, pay off the debt that has the highest interest rate first and then work your way through debt with lower interest rates. Doing this improves your credit score and makes you a more attractive candidate for a loan or any other potential financial opportunities." - Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com
17. Pay Fast, Buy Slow
"Pay your bills as soon as they come in. This will avoid late fees, increase your FICO score, hone new habits, and allow you to maintain absolute conscious control. A purchase based on a deliberate, 'slow' approach to spending usually involves a cooling-off period between initial consideration of the purchase and the actual purchase, and requires the involvement of logic and reason. Impulse purchasing is based on emotion, and mindful, planned purchasing is based on rational thinking and logic, even if the planned purchase is made for pure pleasure or diversion. This distinction between 'fast' and 'slow' spending is crucial to your progress in financial transformation." - Timolin Langin, The Money Magnet, Teacher-preneur, and author of Mind Over Money: How to Live Like a Millionaire on ANY Budget
18. Verify All Monetary Transactions
19. Look Back At 2017
"I think a very important thing to do before setting new resolutions is to look back at 2017. Write out all of your wins, accomplishments, and things you're grateful for. Seeing on paper how many things (big and small) you actually did achieve will uplift you and motivate you for 2018. Think about the things that made you feel the most accomplished and/or happy, and see how you can form 2018 goals that will make you feel that way again. From there, set a couple goals for the year that are achievable and exciting to you." - Maggie Germano, Certified Financial Education Instructor and financial coach for women
Chances are, everyone can make some kind of adjustments when it comes to money and how they save and spend it. That way, the New Year will be less stressful and you can end up with more money saved by the end of 2018. Now's as good a time as any to try and see.