Maybe you only have one resolution this year. Maybe you have a laundry list of resolutions and a goal of being so self-actualized your friends and family will hardly recognize you! Maybe your resolution is to not have a resolution.

Wherever you may fall on the spectrum, it’s a fact that—according to a survey conducted in 2021—saving money is the second most popular resolution in America, right after leading a healthier lifestyle.

While we don’t have much to offer on the subject of keto diets or exercise regimens, we do have some tips when it comes to making money resolutions—and keeping them.

1. Set a Goal (and Write It Down)

Goal setting gives you direction. You can decide on your destination and make a plan to get there. This might seem small, but it’s not. Not only is goal setting found to be linked to higher achievement and self-confidence, but writing down your goal can also make you 42% more likely to succeed.

2. Get Clear

Getting clear on your priorities and deciding on a specific goal are two keys to success. When it comes to your money and your financial situation, set aside some time to reflect on what you really want to accomplish – and be specific.

Ask yourself three “W” questions:

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • When will you achieve it?
  • Why does it matter to you?

Visualizing a dollar amount can lead to success, whether it is a specific figure to save, pay off or earn in the year ahead. Keep that figure alive by writing it down or tracking it in an app.

A real dollar amount makes for a real goal. Give yourself a deadline while you’re at it, to motivate you even further.

3. Be Positive and Realistic

Goals can challenge you and help you grow into a new future. Choosing a goal that is attainable is another important part of success.

Let’s say you’ve chosen a clear goal – with a positive outcome – such as: “In five years, I will be debt free. I will pay off my entire debt of $12,000 so that I can focus on enjoying my family instead of worrying about money.”

Be sure it’s a realistic goal given your specific situation.

Given your income, debts and expenses, is it realistic to spend $200 on your goal each month? Is it possible to pay it off even faster by spending $250 a month? Or does your budget allow for $100?

Staying positive and realistic shows you how much you can devote to achieving your money resolution.

4. Hit Those Milestones

Making your goal measurable will help it stick. Keeping track of your progress can help you stay focused and motivated.

Tracking progress on an app or spreadsheet, or a simple notebook, helps you see your future getting closer and closer.

Break your goal into smaller milestones. This makes it easier to see your progress and it’s less intimidating

For example, a mini-resolution might be to pay off one consumer credit card. Making smaller changes over time is often easier than trying to make a massive change all at once.

Celebrate your success along the way. Celebrating wins actually “trains your brain” by reinforcing your new habits, which in turn makes it easier to stay on track if you hit a bump in the road at some point.

5. Make (and Work) the Plan

Money resolutions often go by the wayside if they serve as a goal without a plan. A plan outlines how you will accomplish your goal.

Keep it simple. The plan might dearly define how much you will spend toward your goal, how often you’ll make deposits on it, and the method you’ll use to transfer money toward your goal. For instance, automating monthly payments or savings goals is proven to help people stick with money resolutions.

Choose one habit at a time to change. For example, if you need to reduce your credit card spending, focus on making that change as your first milestone. Then move on to setting money aside for payoff.