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Over 30% of Americans cited building their emergency fund as their top financial resolution—follow these 4 steps to hit your 2023 financial goals

January 3, 2023, 7:00 PM UTC
Updated January 9, 2023, 10:59 PM UTC
Photo illustration of a woman writing down New Year's resolutions on a note pad.
Certain financial milestones like eliminating debt, investing, and purchasing a home can help you build lasting wealth.
Photo illustration by Fortune; Original photo by Getty Images

After a busy spending season, consumers are ready to hit some major money goals in 2023. 

A recent survey by Personal Capital, a California-based wealth management company, found that across all generations, 31% of Americans are looking to build up their emergency fund this year—the top financial resolution across all categories. The second top financial goal shared by 27% of respondents involves getting their finances in order, with 6% of respondents saying that they plan to meet with a financial adviser, and 10% planning to invest more in stocks and bonds.

Respondents also shared that they hoped to buy a home (9%), purchase a car (15%), and even host a wedding (8%). 

4 steps to hitting your 2023 financial resolutions 

Certain financial milestones like eliminating debt, investing, and purchasing a home can help you grow your net worth and build lasting wealth. In order to hit those milestones, you’ll need to follow a few steps to create a clear plan.

Choose your goals 

The start of a new year can be a great time to set goals and determine what kinds of financial priorities are important to you. Take some time to examine your financial situation and make a list of the goals you’d like to achieve in the new year. You can decide to tackle short-term goals like saving a certain amount each month, making the last few payments on an auto loan, or investing a few dollars in the stock market

You can also set longer-term goals and begin making progress on those. This might include saving a certain amount for retirement, saving for a down payment on a future home, or paying off your student loans

Having a mix of both short- and long-term goals can give you the small wins you need to keep you going and the bigger wins you need to sustain yourself over time as you build wealth and your financial priorities change. 

Dust off and reevaluate your budget 

Budgets may feel restrictive, but your budget can give you an in-depth look at how much you’re spending, what you’re spending on, and how those dollars might be used to accomplish your financial goals. 

There are several approaches you can take to budgeting; the 50/20/30 method, zero-based budgeting, the pay-yourself-first method, and the envelope budgeting system are all commonly used strategies to help you better organize your monthly finances and help you make progress on your financial goals. 

Once you’ve chosen a strategy that works for you, you can figure out how much income you have available to allocate toward your financial goals. You may also need to consider cutting back on certain spending categories to put more toward your goals.

Set a realistic timeline for what you want to achieve

Assign a timeline to each of your goals and be realistic about how long it may take you to hit your goal based on how much you’ll need to set aside. 

Say your goal is to pay off your auto loan, and you owe $2,000 on your vehicle. Calculate how much you can comfortably afford to pay each month on top of your minimum payment, and take your remaining balance divided by that amount to figure out how long it will take you to hit your goal. 

It’s also important to remember that your financial circumstances can change and it’s okay to adjust your timeline accordingly. 

Keep a close watch on your progress 

Set up time to check in with yourself on a regular basis and track any progress you’ve made on your goals. Watching the needle move in the right direction can motivate you and keep you accountable to your goals, even if the finish line is still far off. 

Aim to check in on your short-term goals biweekly or -monthly, and longer-term goals at least once per quarter to ensure that things are moving in the right direction. 

The takeaway 

The financial resolutions you set for yourself now can help set the tone for your financial future. The key to hitting those goals is to set a plan in motion now, even if you have to make changes later. Deciding on a few key goals, determining how those goals fit into your budget, and setting a flexible deadline for yourself can help you hit the ground running in 2023.

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