Making a resolution to improve your finances puts you several steps closer along the road to a better bottom line, based on data from Fidelity Investments' eighth annual "New Year Financial Resolutions Study." Looking for a resolution that will pay off and pay dividends? Simply resolving to pay more attention to your finances improves the chances that your financial health will improve.
According to the Fidelity study, 45 percent of individuals who reported making financial resolutions at the start of 2016 were more debt-free at the end, compared with 34 percent of individuals who did not report making any financial resolutions within the past year. In addition, those who made financial resolutions were more likely to say they felt financially secure compared to those who didn't make resolutions (45 percent vs. 34 percent).
The study also found that the three most popular financial resolutions for 2017 were saving more (50 percent), paying off debts (28 percent), and cutting back on spending (16 percent). Among individuals who went beyond making a resolution and actually followed through on it, 66 percent reported that they were "in a better financial situation."
The potential for "unexpected expenses," such as home repairs or medical bills, can derail financial security, but consumer education can help.
"For those whose resolutions fell short in 2016, almost three quarters said they were derailed by unforeseen expenses, so setting aside an emergency fund can create a buffer," says Ken Hevert, Fidelity's senior vice president of retirement. Fidelity's online guide, Three Financial Resources for 2017, can help consumers discover how small changes can add up to improve the family finances.
"Whether it's a new roof for your home or a medical emergency, the unexpected can throw your finances for a loop," Hevert explains. An especially smart tip from the guide that anyone can apply: switch to no-fee financial institutions instead of paying $43 in bank and credit card fees, and invest the money instead. After 20 years, with a hypothetical compound annual growth rate of 7 percent, you could be looking at a $22,000 windfall.
Visit fidelity.com for more information about how to improve your financial health in the new year.