Vague Financial Resolutions are Doomed to Fail

Maria Contreras Maria Contreras is the Marketing Manager at Consumers Credit Union.
  • Posted on 12/22/2015
Do you want to know the major reason your financial New Year’s resolutions could fail? Even with the best intentions, it could just be a bad resolutions to begin with. You would think any resolution to improve your finances would be a good thing but that’s not always the case. Vague goals without benchmarks or […]
Do you want to know the major reason your financial New Year’s resolutions could fail? Even with the best intentions, it could just be a bad resolutions to begin with. You would think any resolution to improve your finances would be a good thing but that’s not always the case. Vague goals without benchmarks or milestones built in are too easy to fudge or simply ignore.

Instead, make goals that are specific and measurable. Here are five terrible and five excellent financial New Year’s resolutions for 2016.

Bad Resolution No. 1: Pay off debt.
Good Resolution No. 1: Pay off $150 of debt each month, or $1,800 over the year.


A vague resolution to pay off debt won’t get you anywhere. Instead, resolve to pay off a specific amount of debt per month, or a specific amount of debt over the course of the year. Just be sure that your goal includes a dollar amount and an end date. Also, make sure the goal is realistic. If you’re barely making ends meet, don’t resolve to pay off $20,000 in debt over the course of the year. That’s not achievable and doomed to fail.

Bad Resolution No. 2: Make more money.
Good Resolution No. 2: Send out five resumes per month until I get a higher-paying job.


“Make more money” is a bad resolution. You can’t just magically make more money. Instead, think about actionable steps you can take, like getting a new job with a higher salary. These steps might involve attending networking meetings or connecting with potential employers in a variety of ways. You could also just ask your current boss for a raise. Focus your resolution on actionable steps that can lead to more money in 2016.

Bad Resolution No. 3: Spend less money.
Good Resolution No. 3: Cut $50 per month off the grocery bill.


The first resolution sounds good, but too vague to be meaningful. Spending less money is great, but how much less should you be spending? Where should you cut spending? The second resolution answers those questions and gives you a monthly measuring stick to see if you’re meeting your goal.
Before you resolve to spend less money, check your 2015 spending. Find any areas where you overspent, and then think of specific ways to cut spending in those categories in 2016.

Bad Resolution No. 4: Save more money.
Good Resolution No. 4: Save $100 per month in my 401(k).


“Save more money” is the one of the most popular financial New Year’s resolution. But if you simply resolve to save money, then sticking $50 into a savings account by Dec. 31, 2016 would meet your goal. And that’s not really productive or challenging. If you want to save money, set a goal for how much you’ll save. Set a monthly or yearly goal and decide where you’ll put it. This could include meeting any employer-matches for retirement accounts, contributing to individual retirement accounts, or just putting money into a money market account for an emergency fund.

Bad Resolution No. 5: Stick to a budget.
Good Resolution No. 5: Track and control spending each month.


Making and sticking to a reasonable budget is key to achieving most financial goals in the new year. But, again, vagueness is not your friend. If you just want to “stick to a budget,” chances are that you’ll flex your “budget” to meet your last minute decisions like going out for dinner with friends or splurging on the latest electronic gadget. Instead, resolve to find a budget tracking tool that works for you, and use it faithfully. Sometimes all you need to keep your spending in check is a visual that lets you see where your money is actually going.. Consumers Credit Union offers an online personal finance manager accessible via Online Banking. So start the New Year off right by utilizing this great tool so you can spend smart, save money, or pay off debt this year.

Financial improvement isn’t something you just wish for, preparation and planning are the keys to success. Achieving it takes a disciplined and balanced approach. Make a commitment and incorporate these suggestions in your financial resolutions and you’ll be better positioned to succeed. Hopefully, one year from now you’ll look back and commend yourself for setting and achieving your goals.

Happy New Year and best of luck!