How To Make New Year’s Financial Resolutions That Stick

Financial goals (image: hand holding currency)

Here’s how you can make money resolutions for 2024 that will improve your finances all year long.

BY EMILY GUY BIRKEN – Read this article in its entirety HERE on Fast Company’s website

Improving finances is a common resolution for the New Year. In 2023, 53% of Americans who set resolutions wanted to prioritize getting their finances in order. While that figure has dropped to 38% for 2024, it is still the second-most popular resolution after improving fitness.

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Unfortunately, most resolutions are abandoned before February rolls around. In fact, studies have found that only 9% of Americans who make resolutions actually complete them.

It almost makes you want to just resign yourself to bad money habits for life.

But rather than give up on the idea of self-improvement, why not change how you make your financial resolutions? Here are three ways to create New Year’s money resolutions that you can keep.


Most goal-setting advice asks you to create a measurable goal with a specific time frame for the outcome. For example, a typical resolution might sound like this:

I will pay off my $8,750 in credit card debt by the end of this year.

The problem with these kinds of specific goals is that you can feel like a failure if you slip up early on. If you need to use your credit card to pay for an emergency in February, thereby increasing your balance, you may be inclined to give up on the resolution altogether. Why keep going with your specific and measurable goal if you can’t possibly meet your original timeline?

Habit and productivity expert James Clear offers a solution to this common goal-setting problem. Instead of creating a measurable goal with a specific time frame, Clear recommends creating identity-based habits in order to meet your goals.

When you have an identity-based habit, you start by deciding what kind of person you want to be instead of starting with the outcome you want to reach. By deciding to be a certain type of person, you have the opportunity to prove to yourself that you are that kind of person over and over, even if you slip up.

For instance, if you want to pay off your debts, you could decide to become the sort of person who sends extra money to your credit card each week. This is something you can prove to yourself. Each week is a new opportunity to pay a little money to your credit card. Even if all you can afford is a $5 payment one week, you are giving yourself evidence each week that this is your identity.

Some other identities you might want to try on for size in 2024:

  • The sort of person who waits 24 hours before making an impulse purchase
  • The kind of person who checks their account balances once a week
  • The type of person who pays bills early

Identity-based habits are all about deciding who you want to be, then figuring out how to prove that identity to yourself through habits you can easily adopt.


The new year feels exciting because it’s a clean slate. We can start over without any mistakes . . . or so we think. But mistakes are inevitable, as is falling off the savings wagon, hitting unexpected financial emergencies, and descending into a wine-induced online shopping spree at 1:00 a.m. that leads to some truly baffling Amazon deliveries.


In other words, there is no way you can plan on perfect behavior for all of 2024, and any resolution that relies on impeccable resistance to temptation is doomed to fail. You’re human, and that’s okay.

So rather than let a mistake derail you, plan ahead for imperfection. When you make a mistake this year, adopt this mantra:

“That was a blip in a long line of good decisions. Back to my regularly scheduled resolution.”


Resolutions are tough because you are trying to change your habits. Not only are you attempting to drop or disrupt a current habit, but you’re also trying to replace it with a new routine. This is difficult to do and takes time and persistence—hence, the high failure rate for most resolutions.

But financial resolutions do not necessarily require a habit change. In fact, many of your financial resolutions can be (essentially) completed with an hour’s worth of work early in the year, while you’re still feeling the buzz of a New Year/New You concept. Through the power of automation, you can accomplish all these financial goals without having to change a single habit:

  • Want to increase your savings? Set up an automatic transfer to your savings account to coincide with each payday. If you’re worried about missing the money, start with an automatic transfer of an amount you won’t miss, like $20, and set a calendar reminder to increase the transfer amount in three months.
  • Want to put more money aside for retirement? Increase the amount of income that goes to your 401(k) by 1%. Schedule another small increase every three months.
  • Want to stop paying overdraft fees? Sign up for low-account-balance push notifications from your bank and set up Google alerts to remind you the day before anything is auto-debited from your account throughout the year.

None of these automations require you to make any behavioral changes. You simply have to set aside time early in 2024 to set them up, and let the automation do the rest of the work for you.


Getting your financial house in order is an admirable goal for 2024. Set yourself up for success by setting an identity-based habit, planning ahead for inevitable imperfection, and letting automation do the work for you.

After all, why grit your teeth through the process of improving your finances when you can make the process more rewarding, less stressful, and easier?

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