Falling Behind on Financial Resolutions? Here's How to Get Back on Track

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Feb. 21, 2020

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Here's what to do if you're struggling to meet those goals already.

Here's what to do if you're struggling to meet those goals already. 

It's common practice to make financial resolutions at the start of a new year, and yours might revolve around things like padding your savings account, building a retirement nest egg, or socking away money for a down payment on a home. But while you may have started strong on those resolutions for a solid number of weeks, what happens if you're starting to lose momentum?

It can happen to the best of us, but if you're beginning to fall behind on your money-related objectives, here are a few things you can do to get back on the right path. 

1. Identify your greatest roadblocks

Chances are, no matter what your specific resolutions entail, it takes money to achieve them. So if you started strong on the savings front, but have since wavered, it'll help to figure out what's been tripping you up. Has it been impulse purchases while shopping? Unplanned expenses? 

For the former, you can avoid unplanned buys by making lists before you shop and hitting the stores with cash only. For the latter, you can reassess your budget to make sure you're allocating enough money for those bills that may sometimes come in higher. The key, either way, is to understand what's halted your progress and address the problem head-on.

2. Boost your income with a second job

To free up money to meet your financial goals, you'll need to make sacrifices -- there's really no way around that. But as you've probably learned by now, giving up the things you love isn't easy to do on a long-term basis. While you may have done a great job avoiding takeout meals, clothing purchases, rideshares, or other such budget-busters in January, you may have reached the point where it's hard to maintain that willpower. 

That's why a second job on top of your main one could be the solution to the hiccups you've started facing. Often it's easier to work more and earn more than it is to cut back on the things that make life enjoyable. So think about the things you're willing to do to boost your income, and see which work best with your schedule. If you want lots of flexibility, driving for a rideshare service on evenings you're not busy could be your best solution. If you don't mind committing to deadlines, taking on a web design or blogging project on the side could work just as well. 

3. Set smaller milestones

Maybe your goal is to save an extra $5,000 this year -- but that's kind of overwhelming. Instead of focusing on your total goal, try breaking it down into monthly goals. In the case of a $5,000 savings target, aim to save about $420 a month. Seeing that smaller number could help your brain more easily process that objective, and that alone could be enough to get you back on track. 

It's easy to stray from your financial resolutions as time goes by, but remember, you set yourself those goals for a reason. Keep reminding yourself of what you have to gain by being successful, and with any luck, that'll also help you stay on course.

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