7 Alternative Financial Resolutions for 2021
I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to keep my New Year’s resolutions. So much so that I opted out of doing them for the last little while. It’s not that goals aren’t great things to strive for, but coming up with vague goals isn’t effective–you set them and move on within a month or so.
Another challenge is that our financial goals tend to be boring or take a long time to achieve. Yes, it’s important to set aside money for retirement or make sure your beneficiaries are up to date on your life insurance policy, but where’s the fun in it all?
Instead, find a way to work towards a sound financial future while having fun along the way. I’m not suggesting that you ignore financial goals like set and budget and all that. What I am saying is that you can incorporate these seven alternative financial resolutions so you can start off 2021 with a bang.
1. Learn a New Essential Skill Each Month
Learning a new skill can be for fun, but it can help you save money in the long run, directly and indirectly.
Here are some ideas:
- Jog for 15 minutes a day – Learning to run (or any type of exercise really) can be a great way to stay in shape and find like-minded people to socialize with. As your health improves, your medical bills can go down because you won’t need to visit the doctor as often.
- Learn a new recipe – Grab a cookbook or queue up some Youtube videos and find dishes you think you and your family enjoy. Not only will you have delicious meals, but you’re saving money by not dining out.
Whatever new skill you do decide to learn, make sure to break it down into manageable tasks. For example, consider downloading an app that teaches you to run a 5k within a few weeks so you can ease into it.
2. Determine Your Core Values
Creating a budget isn’t exactly fun for most people but there is a way to help you make it more purposeful: determining your core values. Your values help guide most of your decisions throughout life and can help you feel happier in your life, so why not incorporate it with your finances?
To start, determine what your values are–sit down as a family if you want to. If you’re finding this tricky, figure out when you felt the happiest or if there were any purchases you made that helped you feel that way.
Once you have a list of values, you can use these to think about your current spending and adjust accordingly. For example, if you really value community but you haven’t taken the time to invite friends over for a meal, perhaps you can schedule that in and make room in the budget to do so.
3. Practice Negotiation Skills
Practicing the art of conversation can help you deepen your relationships. Being able to truly listen to one another means that you can increase the quality of your interactions and feel more connected to one another.
Negotiation also falls into the art of conversation as well. Think what you can do with this new skill–get a raise, successfully ask for a higher salary at a new job, lower your cable bills and more.
4. Support Your Local Businesses
Becoming a customer of local businesses can help keep the money in your community and can help you build relationships with those around you. Plus if you own your own business, supporting others could mean that others will want to support your business too.
It could mean spending a bit more compared to a big box store, but local businesses also feature products that these places might not have. Local businesses also include community banks and credit unions. Becoming a member of a credit union means you’re benefiting those around you as many use some of the proceeds to fund community charity projects.
5. Practice Gratitude
When you’re grateful for what you have, you’ll feel content and tend to want less. In other words, you could spend less money on useless items because you feel like you have more than enough.
Starting a gratitude practice doesn’t need to be complicated. You can start by writing one thing you’re grateful for in your daily planner, by reflecting on the good parts of your day before you head off to sleep or while meditating. Incorporate it into an existing routine to help make it stick.
6. Start a Legacy Binder
It might sound morbid to think about legacy, but think of it as an act of love towards those you care about. Yes, you want to have an estate plan in place (like having your will notarized) but you can also pass on things like your stories, and memories you want your heirs to keep. This can also be the place to store information like bank accounts or security boxes.
To do so, you can purchase a simple notebook and start jotting down whatever you want. Over time, you may want to organize your thoughts and go as far as writing letters to individuals.
7. Find More Joy
Money is also meant to be a source of joy, so make an intention to spend it on things that really make you happy. Even better, find some way to spend time doing things you love–you’d be surprised at how little that can cost. For me, being able to head to the local coffee by myself, order a latte, and read a book for an hour brings me joy and costs me around $5.
Now that you’ve read this list of alternative financial resolutions, keep in mind that you don’t have to do them all at once or only during the new year. Whatever you choose, hopefully, you’ll find some worthwhile and meaningful goals to work towards in 2021. Then you can sit back and reflect at the end of next year on all the wonderful things that have transpired in your life.
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I am all for creating something, giving things away and being contented. But more than the three, the most important one is being contented as this is the core on how you can learn to save some money.
I avoid New Year’s resolutions entirely.
Anything worth doing on January 1 is worth doing any day of the year. Besides, sooner begun is sooner done.
Instead, every Jan 1 I make two lists:
– what I did this year that I enjoyed or was a positive thing to continue in the new year
– the negative things I did or happened to me, that I want to let go
The first list gets saved and read several times in January as the focus for the new year. The negative list gets destroyed – shredder, fireplace, whatever’s handy. Physically destroying a record of your bad thoughts, deeds, experiences helps my mind let it go to make room to focus on the good.
Not exactly financial wisdom, but a clear mind makes clear goals, be it about money, work, or life in general.
This is much better than your average list of resolutions. I like the first……it reminds me of a book I read in the past year titled, “All the Money in the World.” It is all about spending according to one’s values. Also, the “create something” one…..nothing makes you feel better than creating something new.
Be aware……….Cap1 360 does NOT allow a beneficiary on your acct.
I, too, like the “create something” resolution. Maybe a piece of writing, maybe a new website, maybe just a really good meal out of what’s in the fridge and pantry. I wonder if people might look at cooking differently if they considered it a chance to create something?
Also like “let go of grudges.” Working on it!
Here’s another one — stop being a little bitch! Get things done, take some risks, and stop being so afraid.
Always good advice, Martin!
This is a great list. I’ve decided to volunteer my time, and I’m working at making the blogging/accountability thing as we speak.
#3 & #4 both made it onto my financial goals for the new year (monetize my blog better and learn how to play the trombone), but I really like your #9. I think I’m going to add that to the list as well.
OK, Flexo, you’ve outdone yourself on this one. Choosing the catagories you did for this heading, was indeed creative.
The food next to create something looks good. Where did you get the image (and hopefully recipe for it)?
I really like #2 on this list. It’s something I’ve been encouraging my family (especially my husband) to do, but I like how you’ve worded it. It’s easy with the kids to turn off the tv/computer and send them outside, but it’s harder for us adults!
I love all of these alternative goals, but I zeroed in on #2 and #5. Create something every month or every chance you get. I am surrounded by so many talented and creative people in my life, and I am finally taking some initiative and working on creating some cool things together! I am also starting an herb garden in my tiny patio, so that I am consuming less…when I want fresh basil, I’ll just pick it! As for #5, my blog has helped me immensely when it comes to understanding my finances. I’m still only paying off a little bit of debt each month, but I feel accountable. I’m ready to admit my mistakes on there, and I know I might go backwards sometimes, but overall, writing about it and figuring it out is a huge step forward in my financial life!
At one point in my life, I was surrounded by creative people. Over the last decade or so, I’ve moved in the opposite direction. It’s not that I don’t love everyone in my life now… but as my priorities shifted and I built my business, I’ve had less time to spend in the creative activities I’ve participated in before.
Great post Flexo. Many of these items are things I strive to do anwyay but making them as resolutions might make me more inclined to follow through.
Create Something – Why not offer some of your own talents or knowledge for others to learn from? We can’t always just be taking everything in! You’ve got to put everything you take in to good use.
Learn a New Skill – Whether it’s to impress people at dinner parties, or maybe earn some extra money, we all should be stepping out of our comfort zones more often. It’s a great way to grow as a person.
Let Go of Grudges – This will never be easy, but life is to short to let bitterness eat you up inside forever.
Now if we could just get everyone to practice these! Looking forward to great things in 2012 🙂
Great post, Flexo! I always make sure to balance my financial goals with personal/health/giving back goals as well. I find that the more well-rounded your plan is for the upcoming year, the less likely you are to burn out/lose focus because you’re not interested. Best of luck to you in 2012!
I’m always looking to learn something new, so I think that’s a good one. I’ve been meaning to start learning Italian so when we eventually make it over there to see my wife’s family I’ll have half a clue about what’s going on.
Letting go of grudges is a good one too. Life is too short to let bad feelings linger.
Great ideas and a reminder that we should re-evaluate what is important to us and set goals to change our situation if we are unhappy with it. Regarding #4, I think fear of the unknown and fear of failure prohibit many people from following their true passion. I’m not saying that you should drop everything and be an artist, but you are right that there are ways to incorporate your interests into ventures that can make money. Really enjoyed your article Flexo!
Really enjoyed this article! I read your daily’s and really enjoyed them. I also do alot of the things you have mentioned here. Especially like the creativity and Support small business becuase we do both and get much enjoyment from them. (Not to mention we have a small business and create) We are a little older than yourself but also track in quicken for our personal finances, Keep up the great work.
Love the idea of creating something every month. I don’t think we use our creativity enough – and giving ourselves permission or an “agenda” item to do so would probably prove quite beneficial.
Volunteering can help with finances; one of my volunteer activities is ushering at a few local theaters. It allows me to see theater, something I love, at no cost, instead of spending hundreds of dollars. In 2011, I saw 21 shows…and didn’t pay for 8 of those. (And for a number of the others, got greatly reduced prices using Goldstar and other discount ticket sites.)
That’s true. I’ve also seen shows and other performances for free as a result of volunteering. I hadn’t heard of Goldstar — that looks like something worth exploring.
I second the Goldstar recommendation. It’s a great place to pick up tickets to a comedy show or theater performance for 50% off, sometimes more.
This is a great post, Flexo. I love how you take the typical “New Year’s Resolution” piece and put a very realistic spin on it. My favorite is #1 – spending money on what’s important. I think one reason people don’t like to talk about money is that we tend to immediately judge folks by how they spend their money, rather than realize that we’re all different, and have different priorities. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I also appreciate #11; I have spent a couple of years pruning some less-than-fruitful relationships in my life. It’s not always easy, and can take some time (obviously) but off-loading the downers in my life has not only resulted in less stress, but has probably saved me money in the long run by not hanging out with those people anymore (movies, dinner, shopping, etc).
this is a great post, i like many of these resolutions. Now if I can just make the time to do that managing work & famiy life.
For people who are very giving their time to family and jobs, it’s difficult to find time for personal development. Find some time for yourself, everyone needs it.
What amazing messages this post contains. I love all of these resolutions but #2 is my favorite. It’s so rewarding to create instead of consume. Happy (Alternative) New Year!
I am so on the same page – I am wanting to spend my money on things that give me joy such as going out to brunch once a month which had been cut out of the budget the past couple of years. Now I am thinking there is more to life than being frugal.
I am also finding myself less and less interested in negative people. This is a big deal for me because I am more a glass half empty girl but have been consciously working on being more positive.
This year I am volunteering! It was one of my 2011 goals that I had to defer because I was a displaced teacher. Instead of volunteering, I spent most of the year making sure I had a new assignment.
That’s great! I’ve backed off many of my volunteering activities in the last few years, but I’m looking at some options this year.