Anyone can make a financial New Year’s resolution to be better about their budgeting, but keeping that resolution is another thing altogether. One way to ensure you stick with your goals is to use science to back them up. The following are some scientific studies that can help you not only come up with better New Year’s resolutions, but to be victorious about keeping them when the year ends, as well.
Suggestion: Be selective about who you share your goals with.
What that means: Most people know that sharing your goals or resolutions with others makes you more likely to keep them, but new research shows that who you tell is just as important — if not more important — than telling someone at all. According to the study, people showed greater goal commitment and performance when they told their goal to someone they believed had higher status than themselves.
How to follow through: In the work world that usually translates to a mentor or someone in a position higher than you. When it comes to financial goals, perhaps consider telling someone whose financial prowess you’ve always admired.
Suggestion: Anticipate — and plan for — setbacks.
What that means: Setbacks are a part of life, and that includes with goal setting. Anticipating problems and considering how you’ll handle setbacks ahead of time can help when it comes to keeping goals. Studies have shown that “specific and challenging performance goals can have a range of detrimental effects when set inappropriately.”
How to follow through: To set them appropriately, build in some fallbacks for your goals — like cutting back in a different area of your budget when you accidentally go over in another — so you won’t feel like you’re “failing” and you’ll be more likely to keep going with your goals.
Suggestion: Focus on both superordinate (superior in status) and subordinate (lower in position) goals.
What that means: According to one study, groups that focused on both superordinate and subordinate goals showed an increased amount of effort invested in pursuing those goals when compared to the groups that focused on just superordinate goals.
How to follow through: When it comes to your finances, this might translate into resolving to save a certain large amount in your emergency savings account over the year (superordinate), as well as cutting out one smaller line-item in your budget that you feel like you can do without (subordinate).
Suggestion: Change the way you phrase your resolution.
What that means: New Years’ goals often have a way of sounding like we’re taking something away from ourselves. (We’re going to “stop spending frivolously” or “avoid paying bank fees.”) Instead, a new study shows that rather than telling yourself you’re going to stop or avoid doing something, changing your goal to something you’re going to start doing may help you become more successful.
How to follow through: As an example, maybe instead of saying that your financial resolution for the New Year is to “stop living paycheck to paycheck,” you instead resolve to, “start being more cognoscente of where your money goes.”
Entering a New Year is a great time to revisit your financial goals. By using some of the studies from above, you can set resolutions for the upcoming months that you’re more likely to keep.