It’s February now and you may have fallen off the wagon a bit when it comes to your financial New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps you promised to pay off more of your debt? Perhaps you said you were going to save more?
But maybe you’ve realised that January can be a long month, particularly following all the Christmas and New Year spending. Then, of course, there are school fees to contend with and the fact that prices for some of the basics, like food, petrol, insurances and gym contracts tend to go up in the New Year too, leaving little wiggle room for a boost to savings or an increase in debt repayments.
Whatever your reason, you are not alone if you’re not quite as committed to your financial New Year’s resolutions as you promised you would be. There are various stats bandied about, but it’s estimated that around 80% of us don’t keep the promises we made as midnight strikes on December 31.
READ: 7 ways to cope with the post festive spending blues
If you regret the fact that you are no longer keeping up with your promises, there are some things you can do to get back on track:
1. Amend your goals
Did you, after a couple of glasses of sparkling wine, have glorious ambitions about putting in thousands of rands to pay off your debt in one go? This is hardly realistic. It’s probably best to now reassess this promise and make one that you can realistically meet. Assess the situation and increase your debt repayments by an affordable amount. You can always hike them up again if you find that you’re coping.
2. Create a budget
If you haven’t already done so, create a budget that you can stick to. You’ll probably get a more realistic account of it all now that you know how much you’re paying in increases now that the first debit orders for January have come off. Again, assess your situation and make sure to only increase your debt repayments by an affordable amount. If you find that you are coping you can always hike them up again.
READ: How to draw up a budget
3. Make small, realistic changes
Your New Year’s resolution may have been to ‘cut down on all your spending’. But this particular promise is just as lofty as saying you’ll ‘save more’. It’s just too vague and unrealistic.
Start by making small changes that are easy to maintain. Take a deep dive into your bank statements and establish where your money goes. If it goes towards coffee at the likes of Vida, then buy yourself a plunger or try and persuade your boss to buy a fancy coffee machine at work that all the staff can share and use.
4. Change one thing at a time
If a number of small changes are too much to handle then why not change one thing at a time on a monthly basis. This may be going at a snail’s pace but if you know you’re lacking in discipline, changing one thing and sticking to it could give you the confidence boost you need to then do another and stick to it as well.
READ: How to start tackling the debt monster
5. Give yourself rewards
Companies like Discovery and Momentum give you rewards for achieving your health and wellness goals, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give yourself a treat for sticking to your financial goals too. If you’ve spent two months not buying a single takeaway, do a small splurge and get a take out from your favourite place or take yourself out to dinner. Whatever you like doing, treat yourself – in moderation.
6. Inject some realism into your purchases
Maybe one of your New Year’s resolutions was to buy something that would make your life a bit better and create an investment. Buying a property is one such investment resolution that many people make on December 31. But perhaps you’ve since got rejected for a home loan. Sit down and reassess your ambitions when it comes to property. Do you have to delay the process a bit because you need to pay some debts and improve your credit profile? Or perhaps you need to rather aim for a smaller property because you can’t afford one with the rolling lawns, picket fence and large pool. Put your expectations down a notch or two by either giving yourself time to save for a deposit and get your credit score healthy or aim to get a smaller, more affordable property. You can always sell at a later date and upgrade to a bigger home once you find you’re coping with all the repayments and upkeep.
READ: Why you should pay yourself before spending
Whatever your New Year’s resolutions were, chances are they were said and pledged with a bit of bravado and even Dutch courage. But just because you didn’t keep them in January doesn’t mean you should ditch them altogether. It’s possible to get back onto your financial New Year’s resolutions with a bit of savvy planning and realism. If you’re still not sure how to get back on track, sit down with a financial planner who can help you with your finances and get you on to the right path with your savings goals.
Find out how the Money Makeover candidates have improved their finances with a help from a financial planner