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Only 8 percent of Americans achieve their New Year’s resolutions, according to research from the University of Scranton. Whether you’re planning to start a healthy new habit or break an old one that’s been holding you back, it’s a good idea to put a plan in place to help you turn your resolution into a routine this year.
Forming a new habit takes time, especially money habits. But experts suggest that there are ways to set yourself up for success. Whether you’re looking to improve your finances, or start a new exercise routine, try following these steps to create a new habit for 2017.
4 Ways To Adopt New and Healthy Money Habits In 2017
1) Choose the Right Habit
Before launching a New Year’s resolution, try applying some “design thinking” to your life to discover what you actually want to achieve. When thinking about a problem, engineers try to “empathize” to understand the problem that needs to be solved, and brainstorm many solutions before making a plan.
For New Year’s resolutions, this means understanding what you want your life to look like.
For example, a resolution about getting out of credit card debt should be examined in detail: How will eliminating credit card debt improve your life? By exploring this question, you may discover that using a store credit card to get discounts has been influencing you to spend more than you actually can afford.
2) Give Yourself a Cue
Once you’ve chosen money habits you want to develop to reach your goal, create a cue to remind yourself of what you want to do. Most habits become subconscious and automatic because they are triggered by an external reminder.
To make this psychological trick work for you, create a cue to remind yourself to practice your new habit.
You can put your running shoes on the driver’s seat of your car each morning as a reminder to hit the gym after work, OR you can set an alarm on your phone to check your banking account every other day to make sure you don’t bounce checks.
A negative trigger can also help you stay on budget: A cash allowance for eating out each month is useful. An empty wallet will cue you to cook at home for the rest of the month once you’ve reached your spending limit in that category.
3) Practice Makes Perfect
With reminders in place, it’s easier to make your new habit become routine. The more often you practice your new behavior, the more automatic it becomes — and eventually, you won’t have to think about it at all anymore.
When it comes to exercise, cue your new habit every day so it becomes part of your life. Many people find it easier to exercise right after work so it feels like they’re still on the job. Returning home is a powerful cue to relax.
For money habits, automating your savings by scheduling a direct deposit from your paycheck into your emergency fund makes it easy to start a savings habit. You can also visit your budget and balance your checkbook once a week, as this trigger will remind you of your financial goals on a regular basis and provide reinforcement to track your progress.
4) Reward Yourself
The most powerful rewards aren’t external. Instead, they naturally arise as a result of sticking to your new habit, creating a positive feedback loop that keeps you motivated. For example: a great financial goal will help you build your savings with results you can track on your banking app to feel good about your progress.
Likewise, taking steps to build your credit can be rewarded by checking your credit score and seeing the positive results. An exercise goal is rewarding when it leads to weight loss or a boost in energy. So check in with how you feel to remind yourself how worthwhile it is to keep building new habits.
Eventually, your new money habits will be an automatic part of how you live your life. By 2018, you’ll do them without even thinking about it!
New Year’s should bring about new goals and habits to create a better YOU.
This year should be no different. Make sure to start strong and keep your resolutions in check throughout the year. If you are ever to fall off the wagon, keep trying – the most successful people have been met with hardships more than once!