New behaviors like saving more and spending less are carrying over into the new year. At least that's the best intention of many consumers making financial resolutions for 2010.
The recession led many investors to retreat to the sidelines and for some next year's goal is simply to put their money back to work.
If you're among the masses who are planning to make investing, saving or managing money a financial resolution, keep in mind these five tips that should help you succeed:
1. Set a well-defined goal. For example, you may have a goal to start an emergency fund. Figure out how much it would take to pay your household necessities for three months or six months, whatever cushion you determine would give you peace of mind. Then start setting aside enough from each paycheck to reach your goal.
2. Budget for it. Allocate money every month to your financial resolutions, and trim expenses that may be keeping you from reaching your goals. Budgeting tools are available online. Mint.com offers a useful free tool at www.mint.com/budget.
3. Pay yourself first. Consider using automatic payroll deduction or a monthly deduction from your checking or savings account. View your savings as a bill that you need to pay like any other. Giving it a higher priority will ensure that it builds over time. Keep in mind an online savings account will limit your immediate access to funds so you won't be as tempted to raid your savings for purposes other than your intended goal.
4. Keep your list short. Too many resolutions will lead to frustration and you'll give up. A list of three to five goals can optimize your momentum.
5. Make it personal. Create a list by thinking about what worries you, the things that keep you up at night. Accomplishing these tasks will clearly remove some stress. Don't just set a goal because it's what you think you're supposed to do. A goal can also be something that excites you, perhaps a European vacation or saving for a down payment on a house or a car.