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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Resolving to prioritize your personal finances in the New Year is a great step, but it’s just the first one.
  • From tackling credit card debt to starting an emergency fund, improving financial health has ripple effects all across your life.
  • Navy Federal Credit Union’s financial advisors can help you keep financial New Year’s resolutions, and our tools and apps are great, too. 

Time to Read

4 minutes

You can make goals to improve personal finances any time of year, but the clean slate of a new year prompts grand resolutions. It’s called “the fresh-start effect.”  Plus, as we continue to emerge from the pandemic, it’s a good time to assess our finances, from credit card debt to retirement savings. But let’s be real: Resolution-makers are notorious for breaking them. Only about 9% of people who make resolutions see them through. So, as you make financial goals for next year, try these tips to make them stick. 

Write Down Concrete Goals

The more specific you are, the more concretely you can measure progress. Instead of “spend less,” try “I’ll cut my grocery bill by $20 a week.” Give financial New Year’s resolutions more power by including the “why.” “I’ll cut my grocery bill by $20 a week.” Why? “So that I can save for a down payment on a car!”

Add Habits Instead of Trying to Change Bad Ones 

2020 research shows that adding new behaviors instead of changing old ones leads to a better success rate. The study urges us to view resolutions as a chance to start something new instead of as a decision to stop an old habit. For example, rather than resolving to stop buying expensive coffee on the way to work, decide to program your coffee maker each night before bed and make sure your thermos is rinsed and ready to go. 

Maintain Short-term Motivation

Create daily reminders, from events on your smartphone calendar to notes on the fridge. Find a favorite app that can help. For instance, the Toodledo app lets you chart progress daily, while the Strides app offers 4 ways to track progress. Find one that works for you so that you can feel bolstered by your commitment. 

Focus on One Goal at a Time

Maybe you want to raise your credit score, pay down a credit card and boost retirement savings next year. It seems like it would be tough to do it all at once! Pick what’s most important. Brainstorm ways to achieve it. Then, as you see progress, consider working on another goal. Keep going that way until you’ve got all your goals moving. 

Start Small

Set small, realistic goals to improve financial success. For instance, make it a goal to find a credit card with a better interest rate. Or, while you probably won’t save enough for a down payment on a car in a month, set a target date and a plan for reaching it 1 month at a time. Utilize savings vehicles  that pay dividends and have short terms, so your funds have their best chance at growth. 


Did you resolve to start a savings account, pay down a credit card or contribute to an individual retirement account? At Navy Federal, we have tools that can help. You can make automated payments or balance transfers right from your checking account. Set it up once, and it does the work for you. If a better credit score is a long-term goal, the Federal Trade Commission suggests setting fraud alerts  on your credit report  so you automatically know if there’s a problem.

Build a Support Network

Research shows that as you work toward a goal, sharing challenges or successes with a buddy can help.  Pick a friend to be your financial resolutions partner, set up a Facebook group or try groups like Meetup® or stickK ®. Then, work together to find financial peace of mind.

Start Strong in the New Year

Just as people head to the gym when they decide to get fit each January, it’s a good idea to kick-start your financial resolutions by checking in with us at Navy Federal. Think about setting up an annual meeting with a financial advisor to get the advice and encouragement you need to meet your financial goals. As the months go by, don’t let one missed monthly payment get you down. It’s just like missing a day at the gym—get back on track and move forward. 

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. At Navy Federal, we make it easy to set and reach strong resolutions about saving money in the new year. Learn more about our Savings Accounts and establish your goal. 
  2. Our Personal Finance Counseling tools can also give you guidance and pave the road to financial success.


This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.