You may not have heard of Quitter’s Day but it has become a thing in recent years. The concept has been popularised by Strava who analyse global fitness data collected from their app each January to work out the day that most people abandon their new year’s fitness resolutions and return to life as a couch potato!
The good news for 2020 is that people kept their resolutions for one day more than in 2019. The bad news is that they still only made it to 19th January before hanging up their running shoes! You can do better and I’m going to show you how.
In 2020, 67% of Americans considered a financial resolution and the top three were as follows (unchanged from 2019 by the way!):
- Save more (53%)
- Pay down debt (51%)
- Spend less (35%)
As the annus horribilis that has been 2020 draws to a close, 2021 gives you the opportunity for a fresh new start so let’s take an optimistic look at how you can make it beyond Quitter’s Day and ensure that you stick to your financial resolutions for the whole of 2021. There’s nothing more satisfying than coming to the end of the year and finding yourself in a better financial position than 12 months previously.
Whether your resolutions are fitness or finance-based, motivation is the key to staying the distance. Here are five practical steps to take to help you stay motivated to stick with these three popular financial resolutions throughout 2021.
1. Save more
Most of us would like to save more. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the value of having a bank of cash to fall back on through tricky times. Here are the top five things you can do to keep this resolution.
- Set a realistic savings target for the year
- Break it down into a monthly amount
- Write down your savings goal to make it more concrete and be able to check progress
- Prioritise saving over all non-essential spending
- Automate saving into a separate bank account as soon as you get paid
2. Pay down debt
If you have debt, it’s costing you a lot, and not just in interest payments. Debt-induced stress and anxiety is widespread. A 2013 study by researchers at Southampton University showed that people in debt are three times more likely to have a mental health problem than those not in debt.
Here are five suggestions to reduce both your debt and your stress levels in 2021:
- List all your debts and the interest you pay on them
- Switch any loans you can to ones with lower interest rates by consolidating debts and taking advantage of low interest balance transfer deals
- Prepare a budget to see how much you can afford to put towards debt repayment each month
- Write this amount down and automate payments, starting with the debt with the highest interest rate
- See if you can cultivate a side hustle to pay down debt quicker – there are 50 ideas here
3. Spend less
You’ll need to spend less in order to achieve both paying off debt and saving more so this resolution really doubles up with both the previous ones. Many people I meet say that they can’t cut their spending but, in most cases, where there’s a will there’s a way however it does involve compromise and a degree of sacrifice.
- Start budgeting – without a budget you’ll never be able to get a clear picture of your financial situation
- Use the 30 day rule on all non-essential spending – wait 30 days until you act on your buying impulse and you’ll find that most of the time you forget all about the desired purchase
- Only go shopping when you actually need something, window shopping, whether online or in actual shops, will only put temptation in your way
- Convert purchases into work time – when you realise how long you’ll have to work to pay for an item it often becomes less of a must-have
- Take a look at this fun Demotivator tool from the UK’s Money Saving Expert which hammers home the impact of regular spending on non-essentials
These three financial resolutions have the potential to be literally life-changing and are fully endorsed by yours truly as positive and achievable goals. Why not make 2021 the year that you commit to overhauling your finances and start on the road to a more secure financial future?
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy new year and here’s hoping that 2021 brings health, wealth and happiness for us all.
Chartered Financial Planner
It is my fundamental belief that financial planning makes life better. I enjoy helping my clients work towards their financial goals to give them freedom and choice.