resolution

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

At the turn of another calendar, many of us wake up to the New Year with high hopes for the months to come. We survived the holidays in (mostly) one piece, and we’re optimistic about the money saving habits we added to our list of New Year’s resolutions. A new year means a new start which means new financial gains.

Right?

Your long history of broken resolutions says otherwise. Every year you promise to start setting aside savings, and every year you never quite contribute anything to an account. Like 60 percent of the country, you haven’t been able to set aside enough to cover an emergency of $500 or more despite your early January promises.

As a result, any time you’ve faced a bill or repair exceeding your capabilities, you’ve relied on direct lenders to bridge the gap with their small dollar loans. Sometimes, as is the case when you contact a payday loans direct lender like MoneyKey, you’ve managed to secure a personal line of credit instead of the typical payday loan.

When you’re facing down higher utility costs (thanks winter) and holiday credit card debt (thanks Santa), these products are a practical way to cover these added responsibilities. But wouldn’t it be great to finally pay for these bills with your own cash? That’s the dream! Now all you have to do is make your resolution stick for once.

It’s hard when you’ve developed a pattern of setting and breaking goals every year, and you wouldn’t be the only one struggling to achieve their goals. About 80 percent of every New Year resolution fails by Valentine’s Day. Two measly months is all it takes for your willpower to bend and you’re spending the money you promised in savings on other things.

But not this year! If you’re tired of breaking your own promise, it’s time you set realistic resolutions that adhere to the SMART method. Standing for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time, the acronym is a dependable system of goal setting. First developed by George Doran in the 80s, the SMART method is a way of creating goals you’re more likely to accomplish.

Specific: Rather than saying you want to save money in the New Year, think of the exact number of dollars you hope to set aside. Let’s say you want to be prepared the next time an emergency happens, so you make a target of at least $500.

Measurable: Make sure you’re able to track your progress. Break your goal into the individual steps you’ll need to get there, like setting aside $50 every month. Check in on your accounts at regular intervals or download an app to your phone to keep an eye on your contributions.

Achievable: This is the checks and balances part of the method that ensures you can actually do what you want to do. Spend time creating a budget to see if $50 every month is something you can accommodate. Don’t worry if you’ve never made one before. You can do it!

Realistic: In theory, it may be an achievable goal, but if it requires you to make impractical concessions on your spending or relies on idyllic income projection, then your goal is unrealistic. Make sure what’s achievable is also realistic.

Timely: Give yourself a deadline that isn’t at odds with reality. Though you may wish you had that $500 in your account by Spring Break, it may be impossible depending on the targets you set in previous steps. If you stick with contributions of $50 each month, then you’ll need 10 months to reach your target. It may seem like a long wait, but financial freedom is worth it, wouldn’t you say?

It’s also realistic. When you apply SMART thinking to your money savings goals, you’ll break out from the usual cycle of setting and breaking resolutions. Each step of the SMART method makes you think carefully about what you want and how you can achieve it. It forces you to consider the practicality of the goals you set at New Year’s or any other time of the year, so you’re more likely to meet your targets.

This year, be one of the 20 percent of people who make and stick to their resolutions. Use the SMART method and get your savings in order this year.