New Year, New Goals: 7 Common Financial Resolutions and How to Achieve Them

New Year's Resolutions
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

New year, new me…?

If you’re like everyone else in America, you’ve set one or more goals to achieve this new year. Sadly, 80% of resolutions will fail by February, according to U.S. News.

We’re not going to let that happen, though. Instead, we’ve created a list of common resolutions paired with advice to help you reach them.

It may not be easy, but checking these lofty goals off your list will feel oh-so-good.

1. I Will Finally Get Out of Debt

Becoming debt-free is a common resolution. But it’s also one of the most challenging.

If getting out of debt is your priority this new year, you’ll want to focus on spending less, earning more and putting as much money as possible toward your debt.

We’ve outlined how you can create a debt payoff plan in 13 minutes.

To keep yourself accountable throughout the year, try using one of these apps, which won’t judge you when you splurge on a Starbucks latte every now and then.

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.

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 roommates (though it could cost you your sanity…). Use the money you’re saving to go toward your loan’s principal. This could save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your loan.

If you’re too long gone from home, try refinancing your student loans through an online marketplace like Credible. It allows you to shop around for the best loan rates.

There are others that offer similar services, but we like that the average Credible user saves about two interest points on their current federal loans — or an average of $18,886.

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 (50, actually) ideas on how to make extra money this year.

A few of our favorites include:

  • Sell your stuff — because decluttering is probably another resolution, right? If you have old electronics such as an iPhone, DVDs or CDs, sell them to Decluttr. Clothes and other random stuff? Try posting items to Letgo.

4. I Will Get a Raise or Find a New Job

If you don’t want to take on an extra side gig this next year, then consider asking for a raise.

We know. That’s intimidating, but do your research and see what similar jobs pay. Follow along to these eight not-so-scary steps to negotiating your salary.

Or, if you’re simply fed up with your current gig, start looking for a new job. First, spruce up your cover letter and resume. Then, start searchin’. If you’re looking specifically for a work-from-home job, use this list of search platforms.

And, hey, you’ve always got The Penny Hoarder Facebook jobs page.

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 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.

Hey, you could even volunteer at a craft beer festival and get free beer!

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.

For example, book your flight with credit card rewards. Or, stack up points by taking surveys on sites like eMiles, then exchange them for points for American Airlines, Southwest or United. You can even get points for Hilton Honors.

You can find out more about eMiles — and how we banked a $25 gift card to — here.

7. I Will Eat Healthier, Work Out More and Lose Weight

Buying healthy food on a budget can be a challenge.

Many coupons seem to focus on less-than-nutritious options, like soda and chips and salty canned goods.

To earn money back on your healthy grocery purchases, try using an app like Ibotta, which offers rebates on produce and organic products.

Another option? Cut down your grocery bill by planting a cost-effective garden.

Now, let’s get to the physical fitness part of this. 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.

Try earning gift cards for the steps you’ve talked through an app like Achievement.

Or, place a bet on your weight loss through HealthyWage and win some money like these women did.

There’s nothing more motivating than a little money, right?

The Bottom Line

Sticking to your new year’s resolution isn’t always easy. If it was, you’d hear more people bragging about their accomplishments come Dec. 31.

But you can make 2018 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.

Good luck, Penny Hoarders!

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