THE BLOG
02/07/2014 04:34 pm ET | Updated Apr 09, 2014

Why You Should Make Your Financial Resolution in February

The start of every new year brings this intense sense of urgency to make resolutions we know we're probably not going to keep. Around 45 percent of Americans make these annual resolutions, according to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, and only 8 percent are successful in achieving what they've set out to do.

Around the third week of January, people start to lose interest in what they've resolved to change about themselves. But about six months into the year, it can seem hopeless.

There's a certain truth, though, that not many people consider past Jan. 31: Resolutions are just goals. And they can be made any time of the year.

If you didn't make a financial (or any) resolution when the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, that's okay -- it's not too late. Consider making one right now following these three simple rules of resolutions.

Rule No. 1: The act of setting goals does not have to be exclusive to each new year.

The motivation of making a New Year's resolution is a state of mind that comes easily at the beginning of the year because it seems like everyone is doing it. However, goal setting is not limited to a holiday. Just because we're halfway through January doesn't mean you can't set a goal right now.

Rule No. 2: Writing down your resolutions -- even if you never look at them again -- increases your chances of reaching them.

I recently went to a Q&A session featuring a well-known business executive who said the best piece of advice he ever received was to write down his goals. Even if you never look at that piece of paper again, he said, you're already more likely to stick to them.

My takeaway from this was that doing this forces you to go through the exercise of actually determining the areas where you can improve yourself and your life. Maybe your goal is as basic and as generic as "save more for retirement," but writing this down helps identify the problem and forces you to come up with a solution.

Rule No. 3: Small changes are essential to yielding big results.

Your goals must be attainable in order to achieve them. A good example of this is the "getting out of debt" resolution. Let's say you've racked up lots of debt and now you're paying it off. You may have to accept that getting out of debt completely may be a year-long (or a several-year-long) goal -- one that may not happen right away. The trick is to make small changes to your daily, weekly or monthly routine, such as putting 10 percent more toward your monthly debt payments, to help you reach that goal faster over the long term. For more tips on making New Year's resolutions, check out Manilla New Year's Toolkit: A Guide to the New You.

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Sarah Kaufman is the editor-in-chief of The Manilla Folder at Manilla.com, the leading free and secure service that helps consumers simplify and organize all of their bills and household accounts in one place online or via the 4-plus-star customer-rated mobile apps. Sarah is also a regular contributor to Yahoo! Finance,Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, Redbook, The Motley Fool and other sites. For more financial tracking and budgeting advice, visit Manilla.com.

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