Keeping Resolutions Is The Hard Part
The list of New Year’s resolution stays about the same each year: Diet, exercise, quit smoking and/or drinking, save money and get out of debt. They’re right up there every January 1. For most, it’s a quick resolve and a fast forget. And does it matter?
Could be, some experts say. Especially if you put money into the deal, say buying an expensive juicer to add to the healthy diet that is soon forgotten. No refund will be offered for the fancy exercise equipment you buy and don’t use. Or if you take that first step in financial matters by consulting an expert, that money is lost.
The failure rate is high, according to a Grenny’s online survey. About half of Americans give up their resolutions just 30 days in to the New Year, while 75 percent are back to old habits within three months. Even the financial prudence that was brought on by the early-2010s recession have dropped by the wayside as the economy improved, experts say. When things were toughest, some 33 percent of Americans vowed to get financial planning under way. Now the number is down to 16 percent.
Jonathan Clements, director of financial education for Citi Personal Wealth Management, offers these suggestions that might bolster your resolve to keep the New Year resolution regarding financial health:
1. Buying items on sale is not a guarantee of saving money. Any spending detracts from savings, especially if the sale item isn’t something you really need.
2. Don’t focus overly on investment accounts. Checking every day isn’t necessary if you are a long-term investor. You may be prompted to trade too much and make panic decisions.
3. Don’t invest too heavily in employer stock. The company gives you a paycheck. Think twice before doubling your risk by tinkering with your portfolio.
4. If you want an incentive for keeping your resolution, write down where you think the Dow Jones Industrial Average, gold and the 10-year Treasury yield will finish. Email your predictions to everyone you know. Likely you’ll be wrong and you can learn from the experience that trying to time the markets is a futile exercise.
5. Get rid of wasteful spending. In this category are over-buying groceries so that they go bad before consumption, paying for lottery tickets, buying the wrong gifts for family and friends, paying for seldom-watched premium cable channels, most extended warranties, over-priced restaurant meals, clothing you don’t wear and magazines you don’t read. Make a list and check it twice, then trim.
6. Don’t look at a new car or home improvements as investments. Neither one is likely to recover the full cost. They are depreciating assets, not an investment.
7. Talk to the kids about your family finances. Guide the conversation relative to the ages of the group. Let them know early how much help they can expect with college and other goals. Explain how retirement may affect your own finances and what steps you have taken to prepare. Share the financial blunders you have made, if they will be instructive. Let them know how much they may expect to inherit on your demise.