Happy New Year! Are you making a New Year’s resolution? If you’re like 45% of Americans, you’ll set one or more goals to achieve this year.
Sadly, a third of us let our resolutions fall by the wayside before the end of January, according to Forbes.
To help you stick to your goals this year, here’s a list of common resolutions, as well as advice to help you reach them. It may not be easy, but checking these lofty goals off your list will feel oh-so-good.
What’s your 2017 New Year’s resolution?
1. I Will Finally Get Out of Debt
Becoming debt free is a common resolution, but it’s also one of the most commonly forgotten, according to Time magazine.
Look at your spending habits, outline your financial priorities and build a budget focused on eliminating your debt.
You might have already cut extravagant or unnecessary spending from your budget, like ordering takeout every other night or weekly trips to the mall, but there’s a lot more you can do to minimize your spending.
Make the most of apps and tools that help you save money while shopping, and only buy what you need. Slash your cell phone bill by trying a low-cost carrier, and use cash-back websites like Ebates to earn money back on your purchases.
If you can, plant a garden this spring to help save money on grocery bills this summer.
If you own your house, save on utility bills by getting an energy audit of your house and making these home improvement fixes to conserve heat, water and electricity. If you rent, offer to help your landlord in exchange for a lower monthly payment.
Don’t cut everything fun and enjoyable though — you may not be able to stick to a budget that eliminates all your favorite things, so make sure to keep a couple of treats. For example, don’t cut out all coffee. Instead, use these Starbucks hacks to make your Saturday morning latte less pricy.
Ready to earn extra cash to put toward paying off debt? Check out our posts on earning more money, or read on for ideas for side businesses. And when you do pay off that final bill, remember to celebrate!
2. I Will Pay Off My Student Loans
Student loans are a bit different from other debt, but they can feel just as stifling. If it feels like it’s taking forever to pay off your education, try some of these strategies to pay down your student loans faster.
Advice about spending less and directing more money toward your debt still applies, but as a college student or recent grad, you have a few other options, too.
If you can, live at home or with multiple roommates to save on housing costs, and use the money you save to make extra payments on your loan’s principal. This could save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your loan.
3. I Will Start a Side Business
Whether you’re ready to start freelancing with location-independent skills like graphic design or writing, or you want to start a business in your community, we’ve got tons of great side business ideas for you.
If you’re crafty, turn your favorite hobby into a business. Make jewelry, walking sticks, monster masks, holiday decorations or anything else you’d like to create. Sell your crafts online, at conventions or in local shops.
Don’t have any startup cash to invest? That’s OK. These four business ideas require nothing but your time.
4. I Will Get a Raise or Find a New Job
If you’re keen to earn more money this year, your job is a great place to start. Is your work worth more than you’re getting paid?
However, looking for salary ranges on job postings and asking your colleagues or peers at similar companies may be even more helpful, suggests Molly Triffin on LearnVest.
Time your request carefully — right after you’ve completed a project or had a big win is a great opportunity — and get ready to negotiate. To boost your chances of hearing a “yes,” use these tricks when you ask for a raise.
If you’re turned down, or you’re ready to look for a new job, you have an even better opportunity to earn more money.
“The largest salary increases typically come when an individual moves on to a new company,” says career coach Robin Ryan.
You could also use a higher offer from a new company to convince your current employer to give you a raise, explains personal finance and behavior expert Ramit Sethi.
5. I Will Volunteer More Often
Ready to get your hands dirty or share your expertise this year? Volunteering is a great opportunity to give back to your community and support causes that are important to you.
Choose an organization whose goal or mission resonates with you, and consider what you’ll learn from your experience.
If you eventually want to become a teacher, coaching a youth sports team or helping a Scout troop could help you build experience. Want to get into grant writing? Talk to local nonprofit organizations about ways to get involved; you may not be writing right off the bat, but you’ll make connections.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to develop new skills, and it could even help you earn more money.
6. I Will Plan and Save for a Dream Vacation
Hawaii, Disney World, New Zealand… which destination sounds most appealing? Yes, it is possible to enjoy these trips on a budget.
First, figure out where you’d like to go and create a basic trip budget. Factor in flights, accommodation, admission costs, food and other expenses. Figure out how much money you’ll need for the trip, and start a vacation savings account to help you keep that money separate from other savings.
That total trip cost might be frighteningly high, so look at ways to lower it. Can you save money by skipping hotels in favor of cheaper accommodation?
7. I Will Eat Healthier, Work Out More and Lose Weight
Buying healthy food on a budget can be a challenge. So many coupons seem to focus on less-than-nutritious options like soda and chips!
For inspiration to create affordable, healthy meals, check out Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap cookbook, which is full of recipes you can replicate on $4 a day.
To earn money back on your healthy grocery purchases, try using an app like Ibotta, which offers rebates on staples like milk, bread and eggs.
Need a little inspiration to work out? The promise of extra cash in your pocket might help you stick to your plan to go to the gym or head out for a walk.
If your goal is to work off holiday weight gain, consider setting a formal challenge through a diet betting website, either with other site users or in-real-life friends.
The Bottom Line
Sticking to your new year’s resolution isn’t always easy — if it was, more than 8% of people would achieve theirs.
Make 2017 the year you keep your resolution by choosing a meaningful, tangible goal, making it specific, and sharing it with others who can help keep you accountable.
Your Turn: What’s your New Year’s resolution?
This post originally appeared in 2015, but we brought it back to help you keep your 2017 resolution.
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!
Heather van der Hoop (@Heathervdh) is senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. When she’s not reading or writing, you can usually find her playing along with Jeopardy! or climbing rocks, mountains or trees.