Welcome to the new year, which doubtless includes a list of financial resolutions with a shelf life of perhaps minutes, days, or maybe weeks. It’s the same old story. The timeless, running joke that the vast majority of us have high, fanciful hopes for changing our regretful ways come the first of January, with dreams soon dashed when so-called reality sets in.
Just about the time we deal with all the debt on our credit cards we’ve racked up over the holidays through overspending, we start the process all over again. Certainly by the time the snow melts, the financial treadmill is enough to drive one to start visiting the bar again, or to start smoking again, or to at least take solace from daily purchases of designer coffee and the impulsive scooping up of candy bars and celebrity gossip magazines at the grocery store check out counter.
So much for tracking spending and sticking to that new monthly budget. We’ve got holes in our souls to fill, and there’s nothing like spending money to fill them. The flesh is weak, as they say, and we all fall down.
Is there a formula for strengthening our financial resolve? Well, I’ve been giving this some thought over Christmas, and it has occurred to me that maybe some reverse psychology is in order in relation to New Year’s resolutions about finances. I’m thinking, if virtually all of us break the financial decrees we make, then maybe it’s time to take a kind of opposite approach to the tasks we set for ourselves. I suggest, therefore, that as of right now we throw out all the resolutions we’ve set, and start anew.
Here, then, is my suggested list of new, New Year’s resolutions, specifically designed to be broken:
1) I will set no financial goals. Be it resolved that no thought be given to your hopes and dreams for the future, or that any time be devoted to setting down your financial goals in writing. Live only for today. Spend freely as you go. Throw caution to the wind and let the chips fall where they may. If in a moment of weakness you get caught up in dreaming about some sort of debt-free, worry-free future, try to be as unrealistic as possible in plans for fulfilling that dream (for example, count on winning the lotto jackpot).
2) I will not follow a monthly budget. Be it resolved that you will not lift a finger to follow a monthly budget. By no means put a budget in writing. Tell yourself that an itemized account of what money is coming in and exactly where it is going is about as much fun as watching a dated reality TV show. Avoid any monthly regimen for putting your bills and finances in order. Above all, avoid prioritizing spending based on needs versus wants.
3) I will never track and analyse my spending. Be it resolved that you will make no effort – or create any written record - to determine how you spend your money day by day, month by month. Make impulse purchases a matter of course. If you see something you or someone in your family wishes to own – say some new apparel or the latest digital gadget – lay down the cash or pull out your overdrawn credit card right then and there, or even dip into savings if you have any (see Point 5 below).
4) I will ditch investing and planning for retirement. Be it resolved that you will scorn all forms of investment. Forget what people say about the importance of taking advantage of compound interest on savings and investment vehicles. And don’t give a second thought to how savings and investments will give you comfort in your golden years, or perhaps help put your children through college. Look forward to working well past retirement age just to keep a roof over your head and to put food on the table.
5) I will spend more and save nothing. Be it resolved that in addition to ignoring savings for the longer term, you will make no plans for saving for the near term. Alot no portion of your income to saving for anything, and pointedly disdain any savings program your bank may offer involving automatic deductions for savings from the deposits you make. Feel free to overspend well beyond your means, which ought to be expected of anyone who neither tracks spending nor follows a monthly budget.
6) I will indulge in expensive bad habits. Be it resolved that you will continue to spend a sizeable amount of your expendable income on bar tabs, smokes, gambling, or any other bad habit that suits your fancy. Wipe all thoughts from your mind about how you could save perhaps thousands of dollars a year simply by replacing bad habits with good habits that cost you next to nothing (for example, fun sports and interesting hobbies).
7) I will worry about debt and never seek help. Be it resolved that if you get in over your head on credit card debt and/or loans, you will deal with the matter only through denial and avoidance of psychological issues in relation to money. In the process, you will do your utmost to spend most of your time worrying and cowering whenever the phone rings. Above all, you will not seek financial advice or helpful debt management programs from qualified financial coaches or credit counsellors such as those employed by Credit Canada Debt Solutions.
There you have it. I’m hoping that for the coming 12 months most stay true to form by breaking any or all of these New Year’s resolutions.