A significant portion of Georgians – like most Americans – will resolve to better their finances in the new year.
In a survey of almost 2,000 Georgians conducted by the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates, almost half of respondents – 46.7% – indicated they make new year’s resolutions. Almost 38% of those resolve to better their finances in some way.
These statewide statistics closely mirror national trends. A survey of 2,011 Americans conducted by Ipsos for Urban Plates in November found that 38% intended to make a new year’s resolution for 2020. Of those, more than half – 51% – noted their goals would be related to their finances.
Building savings was the most popular financial resolution among Georgians in the LSCU & Affiliates poll – 57.9% indicated that would be their goal in the new year. A large percentage (53.3%) said they’d focus on paying down debt while 33.2% said they’d plan for retirement in the new year. Others pledged to get on a budget, improve their credit score or prepare for a big life event, such as a new house, wedding or baby.
Not all Georgians prefer to make resolutions at the new year. In the LSCU survey, 63.8% said they prefer to focus on goals year-round, rather than making promises at the start of the new year. Another 25.3% said they aim for incremental improvements each year, instead.
That may be because resolutions are so difficult to keep. According to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate among Americans for sticking to new year’s resolutions is said to be about 80%, with most commitments faltering by mid-February.
In the LSCU & Affiliates’ poll, just 2.3% of respondents said they consistently keep every resolution they make.
Despite the difficulty in consistently sticking to resolutions, the majority of Georgians polled (58.5%) were proud of their financial accomplishments over the past year, while 11.1% wished they’d had more support and 13.8% wished they’d been more accountable.
Tips to Improving your Finances in 2020
- Identify your financial goals – Whether you’re planning to buy a home, contribute more to your retirement savings or start an emergency fund, take the time to document your specific financial goals for the year and attach a timeline to each so you can feel accomplished with each milestone.
- Track your budget – Routinely track your monthly spending so you can see where your money is going and identify areas where you can cut frivolities and reallocate those funds to meet your goals.
- Check your credit report – Request a free credit report on com to understand your credit standing and ensure accuracy. Consumers are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- Commit to no-spend days – Designate one “no-spend weekend” or “no-spend day” per month. Make this a time when no money leaves your hands or accounts (i.e. eat at home, skip shopping sprees and engage in free entertainment).
- Boost retirement contributions – Commit to boosting your 401(k) contributions. At the least, contribute enough to your workplace plan to secure your employer’s match, which is typically between 3% and 6%, if one is offered.
- Fast-track debt payoff goals –This could mean contributing an extra $50 per month to your debt bill or deploying the avalanche payoff strategy, which focuses on putting any extra payments toward the highest rate loan first.
- Automate good habits – Whether you want to save more for retirement or repay debt, automate those monthly debits with your payroll office or your credit union.
- Rebalance your investment portfolio – Market volatility, new money goals, financial hurdles and other unanticipated changes can impact how you should balance your investment portfolios. Keep an eye toward your long-term and short-term goals and make sure you’re viewing the market with clear eyes – not a fear-based mentality.
- Call your credit card company – If your credit card account is in good standing, take this time to negotiate a credit limit increase with your card issuer so you can improve your credit score, or make the case for a lower annual percentage rate, or APR.
- Fund your health savings account – Savers in eligible high-deductible insurance plans should consider contributing to their HSA as this is a tax-savvy way to save for future medical expenses.