We all have things we want to achieve in our lives — things like getting into better shape, building a successful business, raising a wonderful family, or saving for retirement. At the start of the year we all have the best intentions of making positive changes in these areas. However, all the good intentions don’t change the fact that change is hard. So to start the year on the right foot, we wanted to highlight one strategy in particular: create a system.
The good news is, this isn’t rocket science. If you’re a runner and you slowly increase the number of miles you run each week, you’re going to find yourself running a marathon after a certain point. The same is true for your finances. Anyone could tell you that if you automatically save more every year, you’ll reach your savings goal faster. But sheer willpower is a finite resource. So don’t feel overwhelmed about what it will take to achieve your big goals—and instead use your energy to follow systems to achieve your goal as a matter of course.
By focusing on the system and the process the bigger goal is achieved. And perhaps even with better results, because it’s based on a sustainable habit. You can apply this to all areas of your life as well!
- If your goal is to cook more and eat out less, you can subscribe to a service like Blue Apron or Plated that provides the ingredients and recipes. It’s a way to achieve your goal in a systematic way—and at the end of the year, you’ll have a repertoire of recipes.
- If your goal is to drink more water, you can fill a large bottle with the amount you need to drink per day, and know you need to finish it every day.
If your goal is to increase your savings, there are a few automatic ways to “trick yourself” into saving more.
- Automatically boost your savings each year by a few percentage points of your annual raise. Remember when you increase your contributions to your workplace retirement plan, the contributions are pre-tax—so it doesn’t “feel” like your pay is changing dollar for dollar. Ideally, you can boost your savings gradually to the point where you are contributing the maximum (The basic employee contribution limit for 2018 is $18,500. This is $500 more than in 2017.
- Remember that this year, a tax cut is going into place – trick yourself and save that cut. You weren’t used to receiving this cash flow and now it can benefit your own financial goals.
- There’s an even greater benefit to saving. When you save more of your income, by definition you are spending less of it. So your lifestyle costs are well below your actual income, and the money you would need to continue your current lifestyle in retirement is low as well. This opens up possibilities for you—perhaps even the possibility of retiring early, knowing your lifestyle costs will be met while you pursue new ventures.
We share these ideas with you because, January 17, also known as “Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution” day, is coming up. Take the opportunity to NOT celebrate it, and instead figure out a few ways to create sustainable systems to achieve those goals! Adopt the small habits to achieve your goal automatically. As the saying goes, “life is hard by the yard but a cinch by the inch.”
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Halpern Financial, Inc.), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Halpern Financial, Inc.. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Halpern Financial, Inc. is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the Halpern Financial, Inc.’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.