This Is My Top Financial Resolution for 2022

A couple counts the bills and coins they've saved in a jar.

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It's something I've struggled to do in the past.

Key points

  • The start of the year is a popular time to make financial resolutions.
  • I’m hoping to change my mindset around surprise expenses in 2022.

Though I'm not really the type of person who goes all out on New Year's Eve (most years, I don't even force myself to stay up until midnight), I am a proponent of making New Year's resolutions. There's something about the start of a new year that can inspire us to make positive changes -- financial or otherwise.

I've made my share of resolutions in the past. In fact, years ago, I remember resolving to max out my retirement plan contributions -- and celebrating when I actually hit that goal. More recently, I resolved to spend less money on actual things and instead focus on experiences.

This year, my New Year's resolution looks a little different. That's because it's more about changing my mindset than hitting an actual number-specific goal. That alone might make it more difficult to achieve.

My primary financial goal for 2022

In 2022, I want to get less stressed about unplanned expenses.

That's it -- my big resolution. It might seem like a strange one, but financial fears are something I've struggled with for a long time, despite being in a pretty solid place.

Right now, I have enough money in my savings account to cover about a year's worth of expenses. That's well above the three to six months of essential bills people are advised to sock away in an emergency fund.

I also don't have any debt right now other than a mortgage (though with our second car on its way out, I do expect to have a car payment in the coming year). And while housing eats up a lot of my income, my housing costs are also well below 30% of my take-home pay -- a threshold homeowners are generally advised to stick to.

In spite of that, every time an unplanned bill comes my way, I panic -- even though I have money in savings to cover these things, and even though I also have the option to pick up extra assignments as a freelance writer to make up for surprise expenses.

It's something I really need to stop doing. It's not good for my mental health, or even my physical health as there have been nights when I've lost sleep stressing over a $500 home repair bill I could easily cover.

Of course, training my brain to not react harshly to unplanned bills isn't something I can just snap my fingers and do. But I'm going to work on it.

Now, this isn't to say I won't lose my cool if a major expense comes my way. For example, this year, we had to replace our air conditioning system when it gave out in the middle of a heatwave. That was $7,000 we weren't planning on spending. Although we have a healthy emergency fund, that took a big chunk out -- a chunk I've been working to replenish ever since.

But I do hope to get better at not sweating the smaller expenses, like a $300 repair here or a $500 repair there. Yes, these are large chunks of money, and it's frustrating to have to fork them over due to circumstances outside our control. But for the sake of my wellbeing, I'm pledging to learn to shrug these expenses off more easily and chalk them up to being an adult.

What's your financial resolution?

Your resolutions for 2022 may look different than mine. You may have the goal of boosting your savings, paying off your credit cards, or putting yourself in a position to buy a home. While those goals may require you to accumulate a specific amount of money, they're also mindset-driven, like mine. You may need to alter your way of thinking and spending to make those goals possible, and that's something that may take time -- so don't get discouraged if that's the case.

On my end, I don't think my reaction to unplanned bills will magically change come January. But I'm hoping I can teach myself to better cope with them by the time 2022 wraps up.

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