Personal Finance

How to get your New Year's resolutions back on track

Key Points
  • This year, the most popular financial resolutions include saving more, followed by paying down debt and spending less. If you’ve already gotten off track, all hope is not lost.
  • For those still committed to reining in their wallet, the "fresh start effect" can get you motivated again.
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Whether it was an unexpected expense or an impulse purchase, chances are you've slacked off on your resolution to save more and spend less. That's OK.

Most people typically give up on their financial resolutions six weeks into the new year, according to a survey from LearnVest.

This year is no exception, even though more than 4 in 10 Americans said losing debt is a top priority — even over shedding weight, according to a survey by CompareCards.com.

"Weight isn't necessarily something that impacts people in their everyday lives," said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards. "Chances are you are more worried about paying bills."

"It really is about putting out the most immediate fire," he said.

A separate report by Fidelity Investments found that the most popular money promises included saving more, followed by paying down debt and spending less.

2018 Fidelity New Year Resolution

For those who have already gotten off track, all hope is not lost. Jan. 1 is not the only — or even the best — time of year to become better versions of ourselves, according to a study from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

Important dates, such as birthdays and other markers or even the start of a new week, can serve as motivation to kick-start new habits, the study found. It's called the "fresh start effect."

"The beginning of the week is a great time to start again," said Wharton professor and behavioral psychologist Katherine Milkman. "The Monday effect is really robust."

So if you've fallen off the wagon, "look for another new date that's meaningful and use that as the jumping off point," she said. "That motivates us to achieve more."

For everyone recommitted to reining in their wallet, click here for three steps to keeping those 2019 financial resolutions.

More from Personal Finance:
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More Americans are pessimistic about their money, and they blame Washington

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