How are your new year’s resolutions shaping up? For many of us it usually involves losing a few kilos, eating better, making an effort to see more of friends and family or maybe embarking on some self-improvement, such as taking a course or learning a new hobby.

While we all have different priorities, we can all benefit from throwing some financial objectives into the new year resolution mix too.

Here are our top five tips to consider that can put you in better financial shape for the year ahead.

Revitalise your goals
While most people think of new year resolutions as being all about discipline and denial, our number one tip is all about dreams and destiny. Goal setting is the engine room of your financial planning and provides the motivation and drive behind any of your financial activities. That means that it can pay big dividends to give serious thought to your lifestyle goals and regularly review them to keep the motivational fires burning. Don’t be afraid to dream big too.

The key to great goal setting is to make it concrete. That means making it specific by writing it down and making it as precise as possible. Of course it need to be realistic too, so do some projections to make sure any changes you make are manageable and not fanciful, so that you are not setting yourself up for failure from the word go. It pays to get some help too, so speak to a financial planner about your overall planning to get an objective viewpoint and assist with quantifying and prioritising goals.

Target your bad habits
If goals are the engine room of your financial planning, habits are the fuel. A habit can be defined as turning some form of behaviour into an automatic action that involves little conscious thought or negative feelings. Positive habits such as saving a certain monthly amount can certainly improve your financial situation and your sense of achievement, but be aware that a habit is not something that can be ingrained overnight.

When Maxwell Maltz wrote his bestseller on Psycho-Cybernetics in the 1960s he claimed that it took 21 days to make a change of behaviour into a habit. Research since then suggests that it may be as much as 66 days. Whatever the figure is, just be mindful that it will take some persistence before your desired action becomes entrenched, but the long-term results will always be worth the initial pain.

Reduce costs and invest in knowledge
It’s all too easy to become complacent and have our hard earned dollars frittered away through unnecessary costs, such as excessive bank fees or interest rates. Make the new year the one where you simply ask the question of your financial institutions about getting a better deal. Your home loan, car and home insurance, credit cards, transaction and savings accounts are all likely suspects where you could make real savings.

By the same token, you should be prepared to invest in areas that will progress your financial skills and grow your longer term financial situation. It might be buying a book, subscribing to a magazine, going to a seminar or picking the brains of a financial planner. Any and all of these things can improve your financial literacy and generate financial gains that can be multiple times the initial cost.

Spruce up your super
Super has been under assault in the media in recent times, but despite all the recent legislative changes it still stands alone as one of the most efficient and effective avenues for personal investors. But don’t just rely on your employer super scheme to do all the work – make 2017 the year that you take control of your super and maximise your position. Tools and tactics such as salary sacrificing, consolidating your funds, making deductible personal contributions and taking advantage of government assistance such as the spouse super rebate can all make a big impact. Talk to a financial planner about doing an audit on your super strategy to help pinpoint areas of opportunity.

Reward yourself when you succeed
You may not be able to sustain every financial resolution that you set out to achieve, but for those that you do, make sure you reward yourself. A good idea is to build in a specific reward when you frame the resolution, such as a dinner out with family at a special restaurant if you complete six months of your new savings goal. Just make sure your reward is proportional to your goal, (and doesn’t undermine it)!

What are your resolutions for the new year? Share your ideas below.

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