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Turn your financial resolutions in lifetime habits


It’s closing in on the end of the first month of 2011, another year into the Great Recession. Of course, things do look “somewhat” better than they did for the last three. However, everything does when enough time passes.

If you filed bankruptcy in 2010, or anytime in the last couple of years, chances are you made a few financial resolutions for the new year. Great. But now you have to stick to them.

In order to help you stay true to your own economic goals, lets' explore the ways many financial resolutions end up going broke.

First, it is critical that you do not set your expectations too high. Unless you suddenly landed a job that would allow it, don’t tell yourself you have to save $100,000 in order to make the year a sucess. Sure, if the means are there, have at it. However, that’s not entirely realistic for most people. Try to save a moderate amount every month that you can stick to without struggling. Just the act of saving should make you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Clearly, many resolutions fall apart because of unrealistic goals.

Sometimes, people fail to meet financial goals because they are too loose with their deadlines. If there are some things you want to strive for, give yourself a realistic end date. For example, say you want to start investing in an IRA in 2011. Set an actual date by which you want start. Give yourself a few months and focus on it. Just saying “I think I’ll invest again this year,” isn’t going to help you much.

If you did file Chapter 7 or 13 this past year, we shouldn’t have to remind you to stay positive. However, it’s good to remain upbeat about your goals, even if you stumble once or twice. Far too many tend to give up after a slip up. Don’t be that person. Measure your success by your progress, not your current status. There is a big difference between where you are now and where you were a year ago.

Last year, you may have been up at night, stomach in knots, worrying about having to tell your spouse about your precarious financial situation. Today, you have filed bankruptcy, have a clean slate and are on your way to rebuilding a comfortable, economically-healthy lifestyle. There is a lot to be said for that. So relish in it. And keep pushing.

Feel free to share some of your financial goals with others. Your family is certainly the best place to start. Your friends can help a great deal as well. Don’t let things fester internally, share them with others as a way of encouragement. Let them remind you of your goals and be ready to accept their advice.

Do not look at your financial goals as limited in time. Instead, try to make them a lifestyle, not just a resolution for one year. The idea is to develop saving and spending habits that become commonplace, part of your make-up. Give yourself time to consider expenditures and put those decisions up to the light of your long-term goals. Will they help you get closer to them, or partially derail you from your IRA investing goal?

Over time and with practice, your resolutions will become habits. And from there, it won’t be long before you find yourself financially sound and back on track.

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