9 Financial Resolutions You Need for 2021

This post is for educational and informational purposes only. We expressly recommend that you seek advice from a financial or tax professional. Please see our full disclaimer for further information. This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase or signup for a service through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

Sharing is caring!

Get our FREE Guide:  21 Days to a Better Financial Life!

At the turn of the New Year, many Americans set out to make financial resolutions for the upcoming year. In fact, in 2020, 67% of Americans resolved to improve their finances. 

Amongst the most common financial resolutions are saving more, paying down debt, and spending less. The problem is, by the end of January, most people have long forgotten their resolutions for the New Year.

Maybe it’s because other priorities have cropped up, or perhaps they’ve just decided their resolutions are too difficult.

Whatever the reason, this year, I want to help you make your resolutions stick! I am going to share with you the nine financial resolutions you need to make for the New Year and some actionable advice to help you stick with them all year long!

Financial Resolutions Pinterest Pin

Setting Smart Goals

What’s the most common reason people fail to reach their goals? They’re too vague! So, when setting New Year’s resolutions, the secret is being specific about what you want to achieve and your action plan to make it happen.

The best way to do this is by making your goals SMART!

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant

Time-bound

SMART goals work. Let’s quickly walk through each of these elements.

Specific goals should be actionable based on who/what/why/where. For example, instead of saying, “I want to save more money,” make your goal “I want to increase my savings rate from 18% to 20% by using my raise to boost my savings rate.”

Measurable goals should be trackable, so you’ll know your progress and when you’ve achieved your goal. Luckily, when it comes to money, goals are pretty easy to measure.

Make your goal achievable. For example, if you have $10,000 in debt, it is not an attainable goal to say, “I will pay off my debt in the next 30 days.” But maybe it is achievable to pay off your debt in 12 months. 

Next, your goals should be relevant. You should ask yourself if now the right time is to tackle your finances and whether your priorities are aligned. For example, if you’re getting married in a week and then moving into a new house in a month, now might not be the right time to add something to your plate.

Finally, goals should be time-bound. In other words, set a timeframe within which to achieve your goals. So, instead of, “I want to save $5,000,” make your goal, “I want to save $5,000 by August.”

SMART Goal Setting Financial Resolutions

SMART Goal Example

Bring these concepts together, and you get something that looks like the below:

“I want to save $10,000 towards the down payment of a house in the next 12 months. I will do this by allocating $833 per month of my paycheck to a dedicated savings account, and I will save this extra money by cutting back on travel this year.”

Specific – Save $10,000 towards a down-payment; $833/month

Measurable – Tracked in a dedicated savings account

Achievable – Identified area to cut back to save $833/month

Relevant – Aligns with the financial priority of buying a house

Time-bound – In the next 12 months

Now that you know how to make your goals SMART, let’s dive into nine financial resolutions for the New Year! While these ideas are general, you’ll want to tailor them to your specific financial situation using the SMART method.

1. Pay Off Credit Card Debt

One of the top motivators when people are creating financial resolutions, is becoming debt-free. 

Depending on your current financial position, it may or may not be realistic to become debt-free in a single year. But making progress towards your debt is a resolution that should be top of mind for the New Year.

Figure out how much you can afford to put towards your debt each month and then use that to develop a goal for paying down debt.

As always, you’ll want to pay down the highest interest rate debt first and then work towards the lower interest rate debt. 

Are you looking for some extra help? Check out my post on How to Get Out of Debt.

And, if you’re looking to pay off debt, this next resolution can be a gamechanger for you! 

2. Stick to a Realistic Budget

One of the most common financial resolutions for the New Year is to save more and spend less.

If you want to know the “secret” to financial success, this is it. However, merely willing yourself to save more and spend less is a near-impossible task without a little help.

That’s where a budget comes into play. 

Creating a realistic budget and using it proactively to track your spending is what will help you make financial progress. I use an app called You Need a Budget because it allows me to think about my spending before I make a purchase rather than tracking what’s already happened.

In addition to saving more and spending less, a budget might be just the tool you need to pay down debt!

In setting up your budget for the New Year, here are some posts to help you get started:

3. Add to Your Emergency Fund

Another admirable financial resolution for the New Year is to grow your emergency fund.

The challenge with emergency funds is that they require so much stinkin’ cash! 

If your expenses average $4,000 per month, that means an adequate emergency fund might require $24,000 of cash! If you’re able to set aside just a few hundred per month, it could take a long time to build an adequate emergency fund.

That’s why I recommend you set a target of how many months you want to add to your emergency fund in the New Year. 

Perhaps you already have a two-month emergency fund and want to resolve to add two more months of savings so that you have a four-month emergency fund by the end of the year. That could be a specific, achievable goal.

4. Save More Money for Retirement

Next, you may want to save more money for retirement in the New Year. Saving for retirement can take a lot of different forms, but perhaps one of the easiest is to boost your 401(k) contributions.

Say, for example, you’ve been contributing 15% to your 401(k). Perhaps in the New Year, you could boost your contributions to 17%. Chances are, you won’t even miss those few extra dollars coming out of your paycheck!

Additionally, if you get some sort of raise at the end of the year, that can be an excellent opportunity to boost your retirement savings rate. If you were living off your pre-raise salary, there’s no reason you can’t use a raise to strengthen your financial position going forward. 

In addition to your 401(k), you’ll want to explore opportunities to boost savings in other tax-deferred retirement accounts like an IRA. 

Looking for tips on saving for retirement? Check out these ideas to get started:

IRA Coin Jar

5. Invest More of Your Income

Next, if you’re investing more towards your retirement and have maxed that out, an admirable financial goal for the New Year is to boost your investments even further through taxable accounts or alternative investments. 

In my own financial life, this is always one of my top financial priorities. I am always seeking out new sources of passive income, and the way I do that is finding ways to invest in a robust, diversified manner.

Of course, you could invest in stocks and bonds through a brokerage like M1 Finance. Or maybe you want to pursue real estate investments or peer-to-peer lending. Whatever your investing plans, the more money you can invest, the sooner you can get off the proverbial hamster wheel.

Here are some resources to help you get started!

Rebalance Your Portfolio

One other thing I like to do at the turn of the New Year is to rebalance my portfolio. Rebalancing is merely bringing your portfolio back in line with your investment goals. 

Let’s say, for example, you wish to have a portfolio of 80% stocks and 20% bonds. If your portfolio was perfectly 80/20, but then stocks outperformed bonds, maybe you now have a portfolio that is 85% stocks and 15% bonds. 

What you’ll want to do is sell some stock and buy some bonds to bring this back in alignment with your 80/20 target. 

Historically speaking, rebalancing has bolstered investment returns. Just be careful of potential tax implications of selling “winners” – it could trigger a taxable event. 

Check out this post from Morgan Stanley on the benefits of rebalancing and this ASF post with five portfolio rebalancing strategies.

6. Track Your Net Worth

Next, if you’ve been following along, you’ll know that making goals measurable increases the odds that you’ll follow through.

39% of those that met their financial resolutions say it’s because they tracked their progress.

That’s why I want you to make this year the year that you start tracking your net worth and your overall financial picture.  

The tool that I use to do this Personal Capital. You can check out my full review of Personal Capital to learn more!

Personal Capital

Personal Capital is a comprehensive suite of financial tools that helps you track your net worth, make sure you stay on track for retirement, and much more! The best part about Personal Capital is it offers a FREE way to track your investment and cash accounts and plan your financial future! Check out this review to learn more!

7. Boost Your Income

Next, maybe you want to increase your income in the New Year!

While raising your income can be more difficult than cutting expenses, it can be a useful tool to improve your financial position.

Three of my favorite ways to increase your income include:

1. Ask for a Raise

Ask, and you shall receive. Asking for a raise can be a big boon to your finances. Of course, you’ll need to be strategic about asking for a raise, including the timing, justification, and more.

Check out the book How to Negotiate Your Salary:  How to Make $1,000 a Minute if you’re interested in this strategy. Using what I learned in the book, I successfully negotiated a starting salary a full $7,500 higher than I was initially offered for my present position. 

2. Start a Side Hustle

If you want to make extra money, you have to work for it!

Side hustles are ways to boost your income outside of your regular employment, and they can be one of the fastest ways to speed up the path to financial independence. 

My favorite list of side hustles has 99 ideas to get you thinking about which side hustle might be right for you.  

3. Build Passive Income

Finally, build passive income! Unfortunately, creating passive income often involves an upfront investment, but those investments can reap tremendous rewards. Check out these seven passive income ideas if you’re looking for some ways to get started!

8. Increase Your Credit Score

Next, make this the year that you increase your credit score. Whether you’re looking to buy a house, purchase a car, rent an apartment, or open a credit card, your credit score matters!

Set a goal to increase your credit score this year. While it can be hard to predict the exact move you’ll be able to produce in your score, the steps to raise your credit score are relatively simple.

Check out this post on How to Improve Your Credit Score to get started.

Check Your Credit Report Annually

I also like to use the turn of the year to check my credit report. You should check your credit report at least once per year.

You can check out annualcreditreport.com to pull your official credit report for free once per year. Note this is the only website that can provide an official credit report for free.

I also recommend you use some sort of credit monitoring service to keep an eye on any changes to your credit report. The one I use is Credit Karma. It’s free, and it notifies me anytime there is a material change on my credit report.

9. Read a Personal Finance Book

Finally, use this year to get educated on personal finance. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the better shot you have at improving your finances for the long-term.

Whether your interest is saving, investing, or paying off your debt, there are so many great books. 

Check out this list of my favorite financial freedom books to get started. No. 1 has permanently shifted my financial mindset, and its impact on my finances is unquantifiably significant.

Whether it’s one book you choose to read or more, reading is one of the best possible things you can spend your time on this year.

Finally, if podcasts are more your style, there are so many money podcasts that can add value to your financial life. My personal favorite is the BiggerPockets Money Podcast.

Stack of Books

Bonus Tip

Are you looking for one last money tip? Make this the year that you resolve to automate your finances! Automating your finances is one of the best things you can do to ensure bills get paid on time, save more, spend less, invest, and pay off debt!

Check out this post on automating your finances and make this the year to simplify your financial life!

Top Financial Resolutions for the New Year

By now, I hope you have realized there are so many money resolutions to make for the New Year. Setting personal finance resolutions shouldn’t be scary but rather viewed as an opportunity to hit the reset button.

So, try out these financial resolutions and make this the best year yet!

1. Pay Off Credit Card Debt

2. Stick to a Realistic Budget

3. Add to Your Emergency Fund

4. Save More Money for Retirement

5. Invest More of Your Income

6. Track Your Net Worth

7. Boost Your Income

8. Increase Your Credit Score

9. Read a Personal Finance Book

Enjoy this post? Please share it on Pinterest!

Financial Resolutions Pinterest Pin 2

You may also like…

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
shares