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5 Steps to Keeping Your Money Resolutions in 2016

by Ashley Feinstein, Contributing Writer

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Article Sponsored by: USIC via Source2

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3. Make your resolutions specific.

Whatever you are looking to achieve in 2016, make it specific so that you know exactly what you will be achieving by when. As noted in the Spouse Series column found elsewhere in this issue, S.M.A.R.T. goals are the most likely to have positive outcomes. To reiterate this for finance-related matters, a S.M.A.R.T. goal is:

• Specific: You know exactly what the goal is so you know what you are setting out to achieve.

• Measurable: Make the goal measurable so you know exactly when you have achieved it. For example, many have the goal of “earning more.” What does more mean? Is that $1 more? $1,000,000 more? Define how much more you are looking to earn so it’s clear if you achieve it.

• Achievable: To be achievable, it has to be in your power to realize the goal. For example, if a goal is for your spouse to get a new job, that might not be an achievable goal for you personally as your spouse will be the one most responsible for the outcome.

• Realistic: We want to dream big and make goals that stretch us but we don’t want to set goals that are completely unrealistic because this can leave us feeling discouraged. Only you will know if a goal is realistic for you. It might be a great goal to double your sales this year but to quadruple them might beunrealistic.

• Time-oriented: Set a time period in which you plan to achieve your goal. By when will you achieve it? Take a look at each resolution and go through the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. If your goal isn’t a S.M.A.R.T. goal, adjust it as necessary.

4. Set benchmarks and celebrate.

Now that you have S.M.A.R.T. New Year’s resolutions, you’re ready to set some benchmarks. If you’re dreaming big, going from where you are now to where you want to be might be a big leap. Setting benchmarks is a way of breaking down the goal into smaller pieces so you can track progress and make sure you’re on your way to reaching the broader goal by the time you set out to. If we go back to the saving for a house example, benchmarks might mean breaking down the goal into 10 percent chunks. When will you have the first 10 percent saved, then 20 percent, and so forth? Break the goal down into steps and create a timeline for achieving it.

The fun part is that now we get to start celebrating. How will you celebrate your success along the way? When you hit the 10 percent savings mark, you might decide to sleep in, have a celebratory glass of wine or even dance around the room. Create celebrations that get you excited. Reserve the biggest celebration for when you achieve the broader goal. How will you celebrate then? Are you feeling excited yet?

5. Forgive yourself for missteps.

Once you set up your benchmarks and decide how you will celebrate along the way, you have a roadmap to reach your goal. In many cases, this roadmap will change as you start taking action. That’s OK! Just adjust the plan, recommit and move on. We often get stuck and give up when things don’t go exactly as planned. We beat ourselves up and throw in the towel. Forgiveness is actually the most important piece of the resolution puzzle. We can’t possibly know everything when we set out at the beginning of the year with our New Year’s resolutions. We have to have some sort of flexibility to adjust and change as we gather more information.

We’re also building new habits, which takes time. We’re bound to make mistakes. We must forgive ourselves and move on if we want to achieve these big goals! If you stick to your plan perfectly, then you probably didn’t dream up big enough goals. Big goals that are worth it will challenge you. Plan to practice forgiveness with yourself if things don’t go perfectly. It might sound counterintuitive, but flexibility and forgiveness will be the keys to your success!

Before you commit to your resolutions in 2016, set aside some time to dream and plan. Then, take one action step to get you started and remember to forgive yourself along the way. If you follow these steps, you’ll be making strides toward achieving your biggest goals long after the New Year comes and goes. May your 2016 be abundant and full of joy!

Ashley Feinstein is a certified money coach and founder of Knowing Your Worth, where she empowers her clients to redefine success on their own terms by knowing their value and fearlessly going for it. Find out more, check out her blog at and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter at The Fiscal Femme.

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