Top 11 financial New Year's resolutions and how to fulfill them

Updated: Jan 14

✦ Tackling money in 2022 while inflation jumps

Now 2022 is upon us it’s time to think about resolutions for the coming year, if you haven't already. With the cost of goods and services rising, for example fuel costs jumping 36% since April 2020, financial resolutions are foremost in the minds of many consumers.

With the right plan in place, you can stick to your financial resolutions and end year in a better place than when you started it.

Tanasia Bailey of Bankrate, Inc., 100 5th Ave., 16th Floor, New York, NY 10011 has contributed this article on practical financial tips. Some tips will therefore be moreso relevant to the United States.

Here are 11 practical financial resolutions to commit to, along with expert tips on how to keep them.

1. Refinance your mortgage and/or your student loans

Mortgage rates have been at historic lows, so it may be the right time to refinance to lower your monthly payments, if you haven’t done so already.

As for student loan refinancing in the United States, federal student loans are in forbearance through January 2022, meaning you’ll need to start making payments again. Whether you have a federal student loan or a private one, consider refinancing the loan to lock in lower rates.

Study Assist is available for Australian students and there are lots of HELP available on their website.

2. Pay down credit card debt

A recent study found 75% of adults carry a credit card balance from month to month. Among those who carry a balance, the average amount is US$5,315.

If you have credit card debt, consider making it a goal to pay it off. There are several approaches you can take, but two common strategies are paying off your highest debt first (the debt avalanche method) and paying off your smallest amount of debt first (the debt snowball method).

If you’re struggling with making payments, consider credit counselling, a low-interest balance transfer, a personal loan or even debt settlement.

3. Can’t stick to a budget? Create a spending plan instead

"If you have had trouble sticking with a budget, consider ditching the traditional budgeting method and create a spending plan instead", says Loreen Gilbert, an experienced wealth manager and CEO at WealthWise Financial Services.

“The concept of living on a spending plan instead of a budget can give you freedom and peace of mind,” Gilbert says. What a great idea!

A spending plan allows you to choose what you spend your money on instead of restricting yourself on what you can’t spend. Start by determining your monthly income and then decide what spending categories are most important to you.

As a rule of thumb, start with necessary expenses that include items such as housing, utilities, groceries and savings. After identifying how much you need for those categories, create others your remaining funds can go toward, such as entertainment and travel.

Money management apps are good tools for keeping track of where your money is going. Some banking apps offer similar tools.

The end result is the same as budgeting, minus the restrictive rules — making it a good strategy for those who don’t like being told what they cannot do.

4. Automate your savings

One of the easiest ways to build savings is by automating contributions, which alleviates having to think about how much money to set aside each month.

Many employers allow employees to divide their pay checks so that different amounts go into different accounts. Another option is to set up automatic transfers between bank accounts. Regar