New Year, New You? On Turning Over a New Financial Leaf

How was 2009 for you? Are you breathing a sigh of relief now that 2010 is here? Or maybe you had a good year last year and are looking forward to an even better one this year.

Regardless, it’s pretty common to thinking of turning over a new leaf to go along with the new year. Losing weight, paying off debt, and quitting one thing or another are popular resolutions.

I’m not one to make resolutions though. I suspect it’s because they seem too pass/fail to me. It’s as if the moment I slip up I’ve lost my chance at changing for the year. I’ll be setting a goal or several goals instead reasonably soon.

Analyzing how I did on last year’s financial goals got me thinking along the same pass/fail lines. Several of my goals were along the lines of “do x each month”, so if I missed a month I technically did not achieve the goal. (Even though I did really well at what I’d wanted to accomplish overall.)

It struck me that change — or turning over a new financial leaf — is not a pass/fail kind of thing. Or at least it’s not a very “real life” kind of thing. We don’t live our lives and end up as either a “success” or a “failure”. Instead, we’re people, with a lifelong history of experiences, and a variety of small triumphs, failures, and everything in between.

Turning over a new leaf also isn’t something that has to be associated with the New Year. Sure, New Year’s is a handy time for reflection. Reminders of it are all around us. But if you plan on making a change this year or setting some goals for yourself, cut yourself a little slack while you’re at it.

Give yourself permission to screw up now and then, and then to try again no matter what the time of year. Every day is a new day, and now is always the best time to take a step toward the things you’d like to achieve.


  • Tying any goal that you want to achieve to the New Year’s holiday in my opinion puts unneeded pressure on yourself to achieve it.

    I’d rather put in place what I want to achieve according to my own timetable–there’s seems to be a higher chance of success that way.

    Happy New Year

  • Good advice!

    Too many people make it an all or nothing matter, but any progress towards your goals is good!

    This year, I came up with a few goals, I usually don’t partake in New Year Resolutions… But I need to go on a diet, and this just seemed like an opportune time to start it. So, I am…

    I’m not going to beat myself up if I mess up a month or two… But I will try to accomplish my goals each month… My end goal is to be 40 pounds lighter by next year.

    Have a Happy New Year!!!

  • Don, good luck with your goal :)

  • I agree that resolutions are often broken. My general attitude is to have overarching goals. It’s less psychological stress. You can break a resolution, but you can reach a goal. It also implies the long-term, marathon mentality.

    Anyway, we’ve more or less hit our stride on the debt reduction, it seems. So we just have to keep up the current pace and we should be debt free by sometime in June, so long as nothing too horribly awry. Which it may. We’re just hoping for the best and trying to prepare for the worst. But this would mean that we get out of credit card debt around the time my contract work dries up. That should help keep us on target.

  • Abigail, I like the idea of the long-term, marathon mentality. And it sounds like you’re making good progress on your debt reduction. That’s great!

  • Well in general all my goals and everyday focus revolve around having better me, emotinally and financially. So, I actually like new years to see what all can be improved further, though I generally do it several times in a year.

    I don’t make resilutions but do list few things that went wrong in past and i would like to improve in future. :)

  • Indian Thoughts, it is a good reminder to take a little time to reflect.