Don’t Call Them Resolutions: Set Financial Intentions for the New Year Instead

This is a double exposure of a woman with her hand on her face with the dollar sign carved into it.
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When’s the last time you kept one of your New Year’s resolutions?

While the motivation to lose weight, learn a new skill or save more money is super strong at the beginning of January, it tends to taper off by the time February rolls around. By the middle of the year, most resolution-setters have completely abandoned their idealistic plans.

However, just because you’ve never stuck to one of your New Year’s resolutions doesn’t mean you should give up on setting goals altogether — especially when it comes to financial goals.

“I believe we should all have goals,” said Brittney Castro, a Certified Financial Planner with Mint. “But I think the reality is life doesn’t always go according to plan. If the last two years haven’t taught us that, I don’t know what will. Being able to create a plan and then flow with what’s going on is critical.”

To bring yourself closer to the financial life you desire, let’s focus on setting financial intentions this year rather than resolutions.

What Are Financial Intentions?

Financial intentions are more about implementing lifestyle changes to better align with your goals, whereas resolutions tend to be about meeting a specific goal by a solid deadline.

“When I think of an intention, there’s a lot more flexibility and realness built in versus a resolution,” Castro said. “Often [resolutions are] rigid and you have to restrict so much.”

It’s no wonder so many of us fail at meeting our resolutions. Setting a financial intention, on the other hand, makes goal-setting more realistic.

For example, you might have had a New Year’s resolution in the past to save $10,000 in a year. If increasing your savings is your aim, you can implement various lifestyle changes that support saving money.

You might set an intention to give yourself 72 hours to think over any purchase larger than $100. Rather than buying what you want on impulse, take the time to assess whether you’d rather save that money or find what you want at a lower price.

Or you can choose to be intentional about paying yourself first — transferring a percentage of your paycheck to your savings account each time you get paid.

How to Set Financial Intentions for 2023

To create your financial intentions for 2023, Castro recommends you carve out some time when you won’t be distracted by other obligations and write down what you want for your financial life in as much detail as possible. Next, start developing an action plan that’ll help you get there.

Think about what activities, people or resources you’ll need, she said.

If you can’t come up with your own financial intentions for the new year, Castro said two intentions that anyone can benefit from are to build wealth and to create an abundance mindset.

“Most people operate on a scarcity mindset with money,” she said. “They’re scared. They’re stressed. There’s overwhelm and anxiety. Even if you have money, you can still have that scarcity mindset.”

A financial abundance mindset is thinking positively about money and knowing that even if you don’t have a bunch of money, you can always come up with ideas to generate more income.

As the year goes by, Castro advises regularly following up on the progress you’re making toward your financial intentions.

“Personally, I like weekly,” she said. “If that’s too much, at least monthly.”

Reviewing your progress helps you see how you’re moving towards where you want to be in life. If you’re not quite tracking toward your goals, you have the opportunity to correct your course of action.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.