Tangible Financial New Years Resolutions

If you are planning on making financial New Years resolutions do yourself a favour and make them measurable. When they are measurable they are attainable.

My Personal Opinion On Resolutions

Here is a good example of some noble resolutions

  • I will save more this year
  • Pay down my mortgage
  • Lose weight

I applaud you if these are your goals, however, how are you going to know whether you have succeeded or not? Without a tangible financial goal you are doomed to failure.

More tangible versions of the same goals might be:

  • The balance in my TFSA on Dec 31 2019 will be 10% larger than on January 1 2019. This is very specific, you can even put actual values in there, which makes things easier for you to monitor your goal.
    • Remember if you are saving for your kids’ educations an RESP goal of $2500 added to the account would be good.
    • RDSP contributions for your child need to be there as well.
  • My mortgage principal will be $10,000 lower at the end of this year. The important thing is to set a tangible financial goal. How you do it is left open, but what the goal is, is concrete.
    • You can automate this goal, and make it easier. Setting up automatic over payments on your on-line banking of $400 per pay (if you are paid bi-weekly) makes this resolution real.
  • I will lose 60 pounds this year by going to the gym at least 150 times. Ideally I will try to lose 5 pounds a month. Again, this is very concrete, and easily monitored.
    • In my case I am lucky as my office has a gym I can use for free.

Resolutions are wonderful things (although you can set goals any day of the year), but they must be specific. Saying, “I will be a better person” is admirable sentiment, but what does it mean and how are you going to do this?

  • Give more to charities?
  • Being more positive in your life outlook? (again really hard to monitor this, unless you tell someone who can say, “You really are being a sour puss these days”).

Make your goals and resolutions tangible and measurable and you are more likely to succeed. Also, remember to put your resolutions somewhere where you can be reminded about them.

  1. Set the background of your computer or tablet with them?
  2. Put them on your refrigerator?
  3. Tell your spouse, they will remind you.

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Financial New Year Resolutions , Start Now !

Every year, many folks try hard to break old habits, lose weight, or fix a “problem” in their lives, and they wait until January 1st to start this, but I have found that as soon as I call something a “New Year Resolution” it is doomed to failure. The pressure of calling anything a New Year Resolution, ensures that I worry far too much about it, and will eventually give up on this.

The University of Scranton put out some very interesting numbers on New Year’s Resolutions (in the U.S.)  and how long the attempted change continues, the telling stats (especially for old farts like me):

Age Success Rates Data
Percent of people in their twenties who achieve their resolution each year 39%
Percent of people over 50 who achieve their resolution each year 14%

So people my age who try to make a change have a 14% success rate? Wow, it is really hard to teach us old dogs new tricks, but, if you don’t call it a Resolution, maybe you can trick yourself into a higher success rate.

financial new year resolution

Financial New Year Resolution(s) that failed miserably

Should you want to try some Financial Resolutions (not Sarcastic Financial Resolutions ) you can set up for success by starting now, a few examples:

  1. If you have resolved to give more to Charities, give now, and then give in the new year, and you will get the tax breaks for both years.
  2. Plan on putting more money in your child’s RESP, giving now and then in January means  you will get CESG kick ins for both of those “quarters”.
  3. The same can be said for an RRSP kick-in, yes you have until February to get the Tax break, but the sooner you put your money in, the sooner it starts growing (hopefully).
  4. Use your TFSA this year, it is the only tax-free way to grow your money, so use it.

There will be plenty of useful End of Year Reminder articles on the web, use them as a good template on what you can do this year to help you with your next year changes.

My Possible Resolutions

I was also glad to see in the Scranton results that money made it into the Top 3 (in fact #2 might actually be a financial thing as well).

Rank Top 10 New Years resolutions for Next Year
1
Lose Weight
2
Getting Organized
3
Spend Less, Save More

Currently I am working on about 4 different changes in my life, but they are not going to be called resolutions, and I am not going to talk about them either, since that seems to ruin things as well.

 

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Three Financial Rules of Thumb

Kerry from Squawkfox was doing an exposé and asked me for three quick financial rules of thumb to live by (well I think she asked me, rules of thumb that I live by, but those are useless given my financial situation, so I decided to give her a better answer). Remember that everyone should have their own way to deal with their financial situation, but it’s always good to start with a couple of simple rules and then figure out what really works for you.

What were these nuggets of Financial Wisdom that I passed on?

  • Spend less than you make, sounds simple but for some reason lots of folks NEVER figure that out. Even Dickens knew this one as he wrote:

    Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness.
    Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.
    Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, 1849

  • Never confuse spending less with saving money, you cannot add by subtracting financially. Don’t get me wrong spending less for something is a goal, but you aren’t saving money, you are spending it, you are just spending less of it. Save by not spending in the first place.
  • Lifestyle creep is dangerous, and never an excuse to build up debt. You don’t “deserve” those nice things necessarily, never go into debt for something you want, and figure out the difference between what you WANT and what you NEED (and stick to that).

Yes, I have written these things before (note the links to the earlier posts about those exact topics), but sometimes it is worth chewing your cud in the name of financial literacy.

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Financial Anti-Bucket List

I have previously railed against the concept of the Bucket List with Buck the Fucket list (yes a little bit of an NSFW title), however someone on the web brought up the concept of the Anti-Bucket list, which would be a list of things that you never want to do. This idea I can wrap my mind around, as due to my paranoid nature, I do have a long list of things I never want to do (e.g. Pick a fight with Mike Tyson), or a financial anti-bucket list .

Financial Anti-Bucket List

What things financially do I never want to do (or ever do again)? I will try to keep this list shorter, and hope that you all will join in with comments.

  1. Declare bankruptcy, no matter what anyone says about how there is less stigma around declaring bankruptcy, I just don’t ever want to do it.
  2. Get a Pay Day Loan, yes, I am still harping on that one as well, but if I reach the point where I need this service, I am not sure what happened to me, but I will be very unhappy. I won’t have a point for get a loan from a Loan Shark, assume this is the same entry on the list.
  3. Buy a new car that cost more than my first house,  I don’t care how many hot women will throw themselves at me because of my phenomenal vehicle (because they assume I am rich), I view a vehicle as a means of transit only (although the bus I took for a while cost twice as much as my first house).
  4. Collect unemployment insurance, I am not sure this is genuinely on the list, since I was unemployed for a year, and was never “eligible” to collect it, so I suspect I never will collect EI, just by default.

Are there other things we should be adding to the Financial Anti-Bucket list?



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Financial Wing Men?

When I was a young man, sometimes I would end up being a “wing man” for one of my friends when they went out to the bar. My duties were simple, help my friend find the girl of his dreams (or was it the girl of the night?) and then once “true love” was in bloom, I would disappear (some might say like a fart in the wind).

This got me wondering, why aren’t there any financial wing men out there? Are there financial planners who think they are financial wing men? Any bankers, or stock brokers who help out and then just disappear?

I don’t think that is the way things work in the financial world, no one simply helps out, knows their job, gets it done, and then walks away knowing they helped get things done.

Ultimate Wing Man !

 My guess is a few of the financial bloggers that I read religiously are actually good financial wing men (or wing women), but I have yet to meet someone in the financial industry who made me think they knew their job and I was confident they were going to do what was needed.

Am I missing something, are their financial wing men out there that you have met?

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