These 3 People Have Big (but Totally Achievable) Money Resolutions for 2018

Financial goals
Khiem Nguyen, social media video strategist at The Penny Hoarder, plans to pay off the remaining $8,000 of his student loans in 2018. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

New Year’s is defined by the sound of Champagne bottles popping, glittery dresses, fireworks and midnight kisses. Then, there’s the most complicated tradition of all: New Year’s resolutions.

Maybe you’d like to drop a few pounds, land your dream job or travel more. Or maybe your goals are financially focused — of course they are, you’re a Penny Hoarder! — like saving X dollars or contributing more to your 401(k).

The odds are against us. Around 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February, according to U.S. News & World Report. But defining these goals early and frequently assessing their status can lead you to success.

These three people agreed to share their 2018 financial resolutions with us and how they plan to stay committed.

Mikaela Herres: Double Her Savings

A young woman with dark brown hair smiles for the camera.
Mikaela Herres, a 23-year-old student at The University of Tampa, wants to double her savings by the end of 2018. Photo courtesy of Mikaela Herres

Mikaela Herres is a 23-year-old student at The University of Tampa, but this woman already has serious hustle. While juggling her senior year classes, she also works as a social media manager for a local photographer, plus she’s an influencer on Instagram. Seriously, she has almost 25,000 followers!

All that hustle is for good reason, too. In 2018, she wants to double her savings account, which is currently sitting at $5,000.

“That’s mainly money I’ve saved throughout the years, like from high school graduation and small modeling jobs I did along the way,” she said. “But I’m ready to get serious about growing it.”

To do so, Herres has started monetizing her Instagram account by getting paid to feature products in her posts. Through a platform called Revfluence, brands can contact her and send her their products in exchange for a post about them.

She usually earns around $250 for a featured post, but can charge as much as $600, depending on the situation. In the next year, she wants to funnel all that money into her savings account and emergency fund.

Her savings goal is so she can travel. While she’s traveled around the U.S., including Puerto Rico, which is where she’s from, she has yet to venture to Europe and South America. She hopes to do so after she graduates from UT in spring 2018.

She also plans to put away around 15-20% of what she earns from influencing gig for emergencies, like doctor visits and car repairs.

Herres plans to stay keep her savings on track with the support of her girlfriend, who also plans to save big time next year. Doing it together makes it a little bit easier.

“It makes us think twice about our spending money — we ask each other, should we really spend that?” said Herres. “We’re more cautious now, not because we NEED to, but because we want to. And there’s a time where you grow up and say, ‘OK, I don’t always need to be buying that!’”

Chelsea Daubar: Pay Down Debt and Save for a Used Car

A young woman wearing glasses smiles for the camera.
Chelsea Dauber, 24, of Tampa, has a few financial goals for 2018 including lowering her student debt, saving up for a used car and drastically reducing her credit card debt. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Chelsea Daubar, 24, teaches freshman English in Tampa, Florida. She’s also her school’s newspaper adviser, and she teaches a journalism class.

She’s just as ambitious when it comes to her finances. In 2018, she wants to get a better handle on her student loan debt, make a dent in her credit card debt and save to buy a car.

When Daubar first became a teacher, her rent was high, and she struggled to make her monthly student loan payments. She took advantage of every deferment her lender offered and is back at her starting point of owing around $12,000 as a result.

She recently applied for an income-based repayment plan. If approved, she hopes to cut her required monthly payment in half –– but now that her rent is much lower, she plans on paying more than just the minimum amount. To start hacking away at her principal, she plans on paying $45 to $50 from each biweekly paycheck, so she could end up making as many as three payments per month.

Daubar also plans on saving $2,500 to $3,000 for a used car in 2018. She’s had the same vehicle since she was 16, but she’s ready to invest in a newer one.

Additionally, she hopes to “at least make a dent” in her current credit card debt. She now owes around $4,500, and she hopes to cut that in half by the end of 2018.

Her monthly spending varies, so to achieve these goals, she has set up multiple savings accounts. Why set up multiple accounts? Because she will dedicate each one to a specific goal. Having them separate will help her visualize her progress, and she will always know exactly where each goal stands.

“I’ll allocate as much as I can into each account throughout the month, but I’m going to be realistic about it,” said Daubar. “I still want to have fun money. I am a bit of a shopaholic, though, so sometimes it’s going to be hard!”

Khiem Nguyen: Wipe Out Remaining Student Loan Debt

A young man smiles for the camera as he is surrounded by a large tree.
In addition to paying off his student loans, Nguyen also wants to also pay off his $2,000 in credit card debt. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

When Khiem Nguyen, social media video strategist at The Penny Hoarder, graduated from the University of Miami in 2009, he crossed the commencement stage with $30,000 in student loans.

Eight years later, he’s managed to pay off $22,000 by contributing nearly half of his paycheck. But he’s ready for an extra push.

So ready, in fact, that his goal is to pay off the remaining balance of $8,000 by April 13, 2018, his 31st birthday.

There’s something in his way, though: He has $2,000 in credit card debt that he wants to pay off as soon as possible.

If he continues contributing half of his paychecks, which is around $1,500, he won’t pay off his student loans in full until June. That, combined with the approaching credit card payments, means he will have to cut back on his spending to make it all work.

Those who are familiar with Nguyen know he loves food: good food, that is. He loves it so much that he dines out daily and spends around $600 a month on it!

You might assume he’ll cut back on his dining out, but it’s quite the contrary.

“I might just cancel my OrangeTheory subscription, to be honest,” he says “That’s 80 bucks a month, and I’m not really sold yet on the idea of buying groceries and eating at home!”

Will They Achieve Their 2018 Financial Goals? We’ll Find Out

Throughout the year, I’ll check in with these folks to see how they’re doing. Every four months, I’ll report back on their challenges, progress and setbacks, so check back here to see how they’re doing.

Need some motivation for your own financial goals in 2018? You can also share your own experiences on our Facebook community page.

Good luck!

Kelly Anne Smith is a junior writer and engagement specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.