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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

6 Tips to Help You Stick to your Money Goals

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Whether it’s exercising more or kicking a bad habit, sticking to our New Year’s resolutions can be difficult, and research shows we generally don’t last too long.

By mid-year, most people have given up on their New Year’s resolutions, according to historical data insights from Strava, the social fitness app. The platform even has a name for it, dubbed “Quitter’s Day.”

And when it comes to money, we’re not much different.

“This ‘resolution fatigue’ is a real thing, but there are ways to keep making progress even when you start to feel worn out,” Emily Shallal, senior director of customer strategy and innovation at Ally Bank, tells CNBC Select.

To help make it easier for you to see your financial resolutions through, Shallal shares actionable money moves you can make now and for the rest of the year.

Check out her six tips below.

1. Automate your finances

From your bills to your savings and investments, automate as much of it as you can.

When you set up autopay for things like your credit card bill, your car payments, and rent, you can count on never having to pay a late fee. Your payment history is the most important factor that determines your credit score, which is why paying on time should be a high priority.

You can also automate your savings so that you have recurring transfers from your checking account to your savings account every month.

For example, the Ally Online Savings Account has a “Surprise Savings” feature that, once activated, monitors your linked checking accounts (at any bank) and your spending to find areas where you could save. Any money that’s “safe to save” will be automatically transferred over to your savings. The transfer limit is in amounts under $100 and the bank does no more than three transfers per week.

2. Give your budget a ‘glow up’

If it’s been a while since you last edited your budget (or even created one at all), Shallal suggests making a budget that fits your current lifestyle and prioritizes you.

“Show your budget some love by giving it a refreshing makeover, and remember that budgeting shouldn’t be all about restriction,” she says.

While budgeting usually entails curbing your spending, include in your numbers little ways you can continue to treat yourself even as you cut back.

For example, YouTuber Aja Dang would account for $100 facials in her monthly budgets because she prioritized her self-care and found them of value. She would then find $100 to cut out from some other spending category that didn’t bring as much value to her, like a weekend out.

3. Consolidate your savings

Consolidating is an efficient way to both declutter and organize your money, Shallal says.

Closing old, unused accounts help you avoid monthly maintenance fees or fees for not hitting the minimum balance requirements. It may also help you track your money better, especially when you opt for a savings account with organization tools.

Many savings accounts, including Ally, allow users to divvy up their money into different buckets or categories for each of their savings goals. This means you can keep all your cash savings in one place while still saving for multiple goals. Create a designated fund for a “Future Vacation” and another for “Emergency Savings.”

4. Try a ‘savings spree’ for one month

The “savings spree” that Shallal recommends trying for a month requires that you save a dollar amount that matches the calendar date.

You would start by saving $1 on the first of the month, $2 on the second, and so on. In an average month, she notes that you can end up with nearly $500 saved in total by the end of the month.

5. Match your savings to your spending for one week

Another savings technique that Shallal suggests involves you saving as much as you spend for one week (or more).

Each time you spend a dollar, you put a dollar into your savings. The idea is to match everything you spend, but you can also tailor it to stick to a specified limit, “like putting a max of $5 into savings per purchase,” she says.

6. Increase your annual retirement contribution by 1%

Investing a certain percentage of your income in a retirement plan every year helps you to create a secure financial future. Experts at Fidelity Investments recommend a 15% yearly contribution target, including any employee/employer contributions.

While 15% might be higher or lower than what you can currently afford, it doesn’t hurt anyone to bump up their retirement contributions by 1%.

“Investing even a few extra dollars a month has the potential to amount to serious returns down the road,” Shallal says.

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