December 26, 2017 - 8:00am -- Anonymous

Many of you are taking a deep breath, as your holiday activities are over, and others are just getting ready for another run for the weekend.  As we pause for a little reflection over the events of 2017, if yours are like mine, not everything turned out the way you planned.  As we review the good things that came to pass and the areas where we might improve, that’s where our New Year’s resolutions come from.  What am I going to change in 2018, so that I either keep improving on what happened this year, or what I want to keep from happening again?

Many a time have I promised myself that next year, I’m not going to do this, or I’m going to improve that and while my intentions are well founded, before then end of January I’ve stepped back into familiar habits where my course of action doesn’t change.  There’s a way to make change possible, if I begin by writing down, what is it I want to change and how I want to go about it.  It’s called making SMART goals.

S- Means being specific.  I want to save $500, not just I want to save money.  If I’m not intentional about my actions, I’m not going to be successful in reaching my goal. What am I saving this for, is it vacation, a new appliance or redecorating?

M- Is it measurable?  How am I going to reach my goal on a regular basis?  If I’m going to do it by October, then that’s $50 a month or 12.50 a week.  Then as the weeks go by I can measure by how much I’ve saved.

A-is this attainable?  If I have outstanding credit card bills to pay after the holidays is it feasible to do this? of if I don’t have an emergency fund built up is it reasonable to save for a vacation before I have money put away in case the hot water heater goes out or the battery goes dead in the vehicle. 

R- Is this realistic?  How committed am I to doing this?  How much do I really want the goal that I’ve set? How does it fall in the list of priorities that I’ve set?  These are hard questions to ask, but having the answer will help you understand why the goals can be achieved or why they fall to the wayside.

T-Is this goal time bound.  Setting a date to make sure that you hold yourself accountable is essential.  Start small, maybe only a month at a time.  When that is accomplished, then go for 3 months or 6 months.  If you build the habit, you’ll be more likely to be successful.

As financial analyst Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar explains, three $4 coffee lattes a week for 40 years cost a total of $24, 960. But invest that $12 a week in a fund earning five percent interest and in 40 years you’ll have $79,772!

That’s something to think about!  Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Why not give New Year’s Resolutions a try and see what a difference you may have in 2018?  Happy New Year’s everyone!