The Herald Bulletin

December 28, 2013

Big Joe Clark column: Resolve to stick to your New Year's resolutions

The Herald Bulletin

---- — Well, it’s that time again when many people sit down and decide which New Year’s resolution they will set as the clock strikes midnight to bring us into a new year.

According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology at the University of Scranton, the most popular resolution for 2012 was to lose weight, followed by getting organized and saving more money. It’s good to see that a financial-related resolution was in the top three for this year.

Many Americans are still trying to dig out of the financial hole they found themselves in after the financial crisis of 2009. While the housing market has improved and the unemployment rate has been falling, there is still much we can do to better the financial picture for ourselves and our families.

Some view it as cliché to make a resolution for New Year’s; it’s hard to blame them, as so few of us are able to accomplish what we resolve each year. According to the previously mentioned Psychology Journal, only 46 percent of people make it past the first six weeks of the year before breaking their resolution.

This doesn’t have to be the case. There is no reason to not make 2014 your year! Get your family involved and make it a joint effort. You can also share your resolution with others; have someone keep you accountable.

If you decide that you want to set a budget and save a specific amount each month, see if a friend would like to do the same. At the end of each month you can check in with each other to make sure you are each on track.

Another important task to check off at the start of the New Year is planning a budget for the entire year. This doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds.

Decide with your partner and family members what the big expenses should be or will be for 2014. Will you need to buy a new car? Take a vacation? Fix the roof or replace the air conditioner?

By planning ahead and setting aside money in advance, these types of expenses don’t hit your pocketbook as much as they would if approached without a plan. This can be a great learning opportunity for kids, as well.

Don’t allow mistakes you made in the past 12 months to have an impact on your goals for next year. Allow yourself to mentally wipe the slate clean and start fresh when the clock strikes midnight.

Use previous stumbling blocks as your new goals for 2014. If you had trouble with credit card debt, stress at work, or gained a few extra pounds, involve those challenges in your New Year plan.

Set up a timeline for paying off debt, schedule time to de-stress and get away from the office, meet with a personal trainer or create a fitness plan that will work best for you.

Don’t forget to write down what you want to achieve and place it somewhere you’ll see it each day. If you aren’t reminded of your goals, then it becomes much more challenging to achieve them.

Joseph “Big Joe” Clark, whose column is published Saturdays, is a certified financial planner. He can be reached at or 640-1524.