Beyond the Hype: Financial Well-Being as a Year-Round Commitment
WalletHub notes that 36% more Americans planned to make finance-related New Year’s resolutions for 2024 compared to 2023, according to their annual New Year’s Financial Resolutions Survey. This is even though more than 25% of survey respondents say financial resolutions are the hardest resolutions to keep.
Experts say that successful New Year’s resolutions are less about acting and more about attitude. Here are a few mindset shifts that could be helpful.
It’s OK to Ask for Help
This year, resolve to take advantage of the financial well-being resources available to you. "One of the biggest untapped areas to build wealth easily is through employer’s benefits packages,” said Mindy Yu, CIMA Director of Investing, Betterment at Work. “Our  survey found just 38% of workers take advantage of all financial wellness benefits offered by their employer.”
Wespath’s partnership with EY Financial Planning Services (EY) can help you make (and achieve) your financial resolutions—and then some! EY offers confidential, objective financial counseling at no additional cost1 to all active participants and surviving spouses with an account balance in Wespath-administered plans. EY planners can assist with debt reduction, budgeting, retirement savings planning and more.
It's also important to keep your spouse or partner aware of any financial resolutions. Sharing your goals makes you more accountable for their achievement. Plus, it’s helpful if you and your significant other are on the same page financially. Attorney Nicole Sidoma says that financial transparency is essential for financial and marital success. “Both people should know how much money they have, how their investments and retirement funds look, and their money goals for the year ahead,” she says. An EY financial planner can incorporate your spouse’s income, retirement plan(s) and other assets into your financial plan so you can see the whole picture.
Skip the All-or-Nothing Mentality
The inherent nature of New Year's resolutions encourages an all-or-nothing mentality. At some point in the new year (usually around February) we can start to think “If I don’t accomplish the entire list of action items, I’m a failure, so why bother!” For example, a November 2023 Investopedia article titled “Financial New Year’s Resolutions that You Can Keep” encourages readers to calculate their net worth, reset their retirement accounts, update their savings goals, develop a plan to pay down debts, rebalance their portfolio, pay down their credit cards, review their credit report, and review their life and disability insurance. These are all worthy goals—but confronting the full list is enough to make anyone feel exhausted and overwhelmed.
Noted behavioral psychologist Dr. Paul Marciano says we should stop “all-or-nothing” thinking, as it’s better to do something, even if it’s a small step, rather than nothing. "If you have a financial emergency and can’t save your full [goal of] 10% this month, just save what you can,” he says. “The bottom line is any effort toward your goal is better than no effort.”
If you perceive your progress toward financial well-being as an all-encompassing success or failure, it can lead to a cycle of guilt and self-blame. Give yourself grace to accomplish your financial goals and recognize that reaching (or not reaching) your financial resolutions does not define your self-worth.
Vince Lombardi once said: "The pursuit of perfection may be impossible, but if we chase perfection, we just might catch excellence." Drop all-or-nothing thinking and you might just accomplish something.
Develop a Plan and Nail Down the Details
Failed resolutions often lack a clear plan or strategy to achieve them. Kelly LaVigne, VP of Consumer Insights at Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, notes that while most are aware they could improve their financial outlook and make a resolution to do so, most resolutions are too general to be effective. "Too many resolutions stop there with vague intentions. That will only lead you to feel like you’re falling short," LaVigne says. "The best way to make and keep a resolution is to nail down the details. That way you can track your progress and see how you’re doing the work for your future self."
In her article "5 Financial New Year’s Resolutions to Help Get Your Money in Order," Certified Financial Planner Cicely Jones acknowledges that attaining financial well-being can be daunting. Small measures are best, such as adopting self-awareness when it comes to major purchases. Jones writes, "If you have a major purchase goal, particularly when many people around you are acting on things fast, it’s important to take a step back and assess how moving forward with buying it will impact your budget and other financial goals."
1 Costs for these services are included in Wespath’s operating expenses that are paid for by the funds.
Need Some Motivation? Take Part in the EY Financial Wellness Challenge
If you don’t know where to start, EY can help! View EY’s recorded webinar that covers everything you need to know about how to take part in the EY Navigate 10-Day Financial Wellness Challenge. As a Challenge participant, you’ll make progress toward greater financial wellness one step at a time. Visit wespath.eynavigate.com to access the recording.
EY Financial Planning Services can help
Call 1-800-360-2539, business days from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Central time, to speak directly with an EY financial planner. Or visit wespath.eynavigate.com to access calculators, webinar recordings, educational content and more.