View of a new years resolution paper in typewriter, "This year I will"

Ten financial resolutions for the New Year (and a financial goals worksheet to get started)

Dec 6, 2022
Empower Insights

The best financial resolutions for 2023

If you're giving a little more thought into how to reach your goals at the start of the new year, you're not alone. It's a common practice throughout the world and has been around for thousands of years.1

New Year's resolutions are often about physical and mental health: Workout more, eat less junk food, meditate once a day, quit smoking, spend less time on social media. But what about financial health? Have you thought about improving your financial situation in 2023?

And while we think taking care of your financial health should be a priority year-round, the New Year provides a great opportunity to check-in and see how you can potentially up your financial game.

So, what kinds of financial goals do people have? According to recent data from our Empowering America’s Financial Journey study, below are Americans’ top five financial goals:

  • Saving for retirement
  • Paying off debt
  • Making ends meet
  • Building an emergency fund
  • Saving for a major purchase or expense2

Ready to commit to setting 2023 financial goals but need a little inspiration? Here are 10 really great New Year’s financial resolutions to get you started:

  1. Meet your match

If you’re able, meeting your company match is generally a good idea. There’s a reason a 401(k) match is often referred to as “free money.” You don’t have to do anything to earn it other than contribute to your retirement plan; if your retirement plan offers a match and you contribute to your 401(k), your employer also contributes funds. Many companies will typically match 50% or 100% of your contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary. 

A good goal may be to contribute the minimum amount required to take full advantage of your company match – that way you’re not potentially leaving “free money” on the table.

2. Raise your retirement contribution rate

Maybe you’re already meeting your match, or you’re looking to kick it up a notch. One sound strategy to implement into your savings routine is to begin contributing 10% (or even more) to your retirement plan account. And while your take-home pay will be reduced, your taxable income is also reduced with pre-tax contributions and your retirement nest egg has the potential to keep growing. Empower insight reveals people who set their contribution rate to at least 10% are on track to replace 100% of their working income down the road.3

And if you're already maximizing your employer plan contributions, or don't have access to an employer plan, consider contributing to an Individual Retirement Account.

3. Pay off personal debt

How to pay off debt depends on what type of debt you have. Because credit cards often carry high interest rates (18% or more), and issuers are happy to let you pay for that new TV over decades — with interest piling up along the way — it can be a good idea to plan to pay off credit card debt first.

4. Kick a costly habit

Maybe it’s your daily gourmet coffee, a premium movie channel package or that afternoon sweet treat. Little things add up. Try to swap your pricey patterns for some good financial habits to put more money back in your pocket.

5. Build an emergency fund  

Cars deteriorate, basements flood and arms break. In other words, life is full of surprises. Expect the unexpected and create an emergency fund in order to avoid debt and cover those unforeseen expenses.

6. Talk with a financial advisor

By the end of the year, seek out human advice. A financial advisor can help you determine exactly what your financial goals are, walk you through your options, and provide a personalized plan. Getting guidance can help steer you in the right direction when you’re stuck in neutral.

7. Improve your financial literacy

Every weekend or month, download and tune into a different financial or investing podcast. Or, if you’re too busy, commit to reading a personal finance book once per quarter or an educational article once per month. After discovering a wealth of savings tips and tricks, you may even become an expert yourself. 

8. Calculate your net worth

Your net worth is a good thing to know because it gives you a big-picture view of your financial health at any given time, and it’s an effective way to see if your finances are on track toward your goals. It can also help you identify where you may be able to reduce your debts and increase your assets.

9. Write a will

A will ensures your final wishes will be carried out as you intend. Without one in place, your estate could go through a lengthy process known as probate, which involves the courts dictating how your assets are distributed.

 10. Make a financial plan

Regardless of whether you’re early in your career or nearing the finish line, your golden years will be here before you know it. Writing down your short-term and long-term financial goals can help you make progress toward the future you imagine. Put pen to paper and use a financial goals worksheet to start 2023 off on the right financial foot.

    Graphic of Financial goals worksheet download

    Finally, in order to keep going strong all year long, it helps to set savings goals that are:

    • Specific: Be precise. Instead of saying, “My New Year’s resolution is to save money,” put an actual number on it. If you want to contribute more to your 401(k) or IRA account, determine an exact value like 10%.
    • Attainable: Be practical. Socking away $1 million in 2023 sounds amazing, but it may not be a realistic target for everyone. Establish reasonable expectations that fit with your income or salary.
    • Durable: Be persistent. Mistakes happen. If you slip up along the way, pick up the pieces and stick with it.

     

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    1 History.com, The History of New Year’s Resolutions, December 2020.

    2 Empower, Empowering America’s Financial Journey, November 2022.

    3 Empower, “Scoring the Progress of Retirement Savers 2020,” September 2020.

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