Every year, after overindulging in December, thousands of us resolve to turn over a new leaf – we promise ourselves we’ll save money, eat healthy food and train for that marathon. For most of us these resolutions fail before the fizz has gone out of the New Year’s bubbly.

If you've made resolutions in the past and not stuck to them take stock of what made you veer off track.

Know your triggers

  • If your credit card is your weakness, make sure you’ve got the best credit card for you in terms of interest rates, fees and rewards. If you’re struggling to make a dent in your repayments, consider a balance transfer. This is where you transfer the balance from one credit card to a card from another provider at a lower interest rate, meaning you can cut down the debt more quickly.
  • If you tend to fritter your money away, try cutting down your spending rather than going cold turkey. Complete deprivation is hard to stick to. Consider setting up a spending account, with a set amount of money each pay. The rest of your money can get safely stowed away in a bills or savings accounts.
  • Take a look at our savings calculator to see how much your habits like a daily coffee are costing you, and how much you could potentially save by making a few tweaks.

Automate

If willpower is a problem, then take temptation out of the equation by automating your banking. Rather than making saving or debt repayment the last thing you do after payday, make it the first thing you do. You can set up automatic payments to regularly hit your savings account, credit card balance or loans. Alternatively, you can use tools like PayStream, which will divert your pay into different accounts before you even see it.

Get specific

Being vague and unrealistic will set you up for failure when it comes to sticking to any goal. ‘Save more money’ doesn’t tend to be as motivating over the long term as having a specific target, like ‘saving $3,000 for a week in Rarotonga’.

Being too ambitious is also setting yourself up to fail – saving $3,000 in a year might not be do-able, but building that amount over two years might.

When setting goals, ask yourself, are they SMART– specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-senstive?

Example:

  • Specific: Save for a week-long holiday in Rarotonga
  • Measurable: A week in Rarotonga will cost around $3,000
  • Attainable: I’ve done a budget and can afford to put aside $200 a month
  • Realistic: I’m working fulltime, have paid off my credit card debt and have no other major financial obligations that stand in my way
  • Time-sensitive: I’ll achieve this in 15 months.

Set bite-sized goals

Eat that elephant one bite at a time. Rather than getting overwhelmed by the size of your end-goal, set yourself mini milestones along the way. Celebrate your gains, rather than freak out about how far you have to go. Taking the above example, saving $200 a month sounds less daunting, and more achievable, than saving $3,000. Same goal, different way of thinking about it.

Set up tools like a Goal Tracker to help you visualise your progress. This allows you to enter in your savings target, your deadline and what you’re saving for. You can link this to your savings account and get a visual update on your progress each time you log into that account. You can also rename your account to match your goal (for example, call it Rarotonga) and add a photo (maybe of a sandy tropical beach) so you can visualise what you're saving for.

This is intended as general information only. It does not take into account your financial situation and goals and is not personal advice. For advice about your particular circumstances please see your financial adviser.