Today is the day to make sure 2021 is better for you and your money than 2020 was. That’s why we’re suggesting these 43 life-changing New Year’s money resolutions for 2021. Implement these, and January 2021 could get you rolling toward an awesome money year and great success. Even if you just do a handful of them.
Disclosure: Our editorial content contains affiliates from which we receive a small payment to support the site at no additional cost to you. These marketing partners do not influence our opinion of their products. They do not review, approve or endorse our editorial content. All opinions remain our own.
As the clock strikes midnight on December 31, millions will be thrilled to finally see 2020 in the rear-view mirror. And hopefully be making life-changing New Year’s money resolutions for 2021.
Here are 43 life-changing New Year’s money resolutions you can make for 2021. Your actions today can make or break your entire financial future in 2021.
While naysayers say New Year’s resolutions don’t work – including New Year’s money resolutions – you can make them work.
Frankly, breaking into a new year gives you a great opportunity to reflect on what didn’t work this past year… and commit to new hopes, dreams, and plans for the new year.
If you want to travel the same path, you need to know what worked so you repeat it. On the other hand, if you want to change things up, you need to know what didn’t work so you don’t repeat past mistakes.
Remember, smart money – wallet wisdom – doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long game, as we say repeatedly here at MyWalletWisdom. Keep doing the right things for long enough – along with avoiding expensive mistakes – and you will succeed. Which gives you the opportunity to live life on your terms and fulfill your dreams.
If you have a significant other, discuss this together and get on the same page. It’ll be much smoother sailing with two forces pushing in the same direction, rather than a tug-of-war with each of you pulling in a different direction.
Now without further delay, here are our 43 life-changing New Year’s money resolutions for 2021.
1. Start bossing your money around.
Be the boss of your dollars, not a victim who wonders where they all went.
2. Live below your means.
If you have too much month left over after the money’s gone, you need to change something up so you have money left over.
3. Be ready for surprises.
A Bankrate survey[i] showed that 55% of respondents were remorseful over not saving enough for emergencies, in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, a stunning 21% of Americans have no emergency savings at all. Which leaves no cushion for the inevitable life surprise, which usually comes with financial strings attached.
It really is possible to become a millionaire! But your best shot is to start young. Start today. Every day counts.
5. Tackle your debt faster.
Whether you use the debt avalanche method or debt snowball method, it’ll work as long as you work the system. What if you could get your debts paid off in 2021… or cut in half, for a 2-year plan?
6. Commit to no new debt.
The only way to win at the debt game is to not have any. If you have debt right now, commit to taking on no new debt. Once your debts are repaid, don’t charge any more to your credit cards than you can pay off each month.
7. Automate your finances.
Set up automatic transfers into various savings, debt repayment, and retirement accounts. Money you don’t see is money you won’t spend. Set your system up once and forget about it. Make one decision and let things run on autopilot!
8. Find ways to earn more money.
Achieving your financial goals is always easier when you have more moolah to work with. Whether you ask for a raise, earn a promotion, find a new better-paying job, or get yourself going on a side hustle, it can help you reach your goals faster.
9. Max out your retirement savings accounts.
The Bankrate survey mentioned above also showed that respondents regretted not having enough retirement savings. Employee retirement accounts are the closest thing to free money there is. You control your investments based on choices provided by your employer. And there’s often an employer match for every dollar up to a preset limit. You’re crazy if you overlook this free money.
Start by looking at your credit report to be sure it’s accurate. And always – 100% of the time – make all payments early or on time. Late payments will crash your credit score. Make 2021 the year of on-time payments and declining amounts of debt.
11. Refi your student loans.
If you have stable income and a good credit score, refinance at a lower fixed rate with the shortest repayment period you can afford. Be sure to compare multiple lenders to get the best rates available.
12. Quit spending for stuff you don’t need.
Student Loan Hero’s survey of more than 1,000 Americans found that 56% regretted or felt guilty about spending money on non-essentials. Shockingly, 31% of Americans said they’d wasted at least $10,000 in the past year. Another 26% said they’d overspent $1,000 to $5,000. All this spending means less money going towards debt repayment, emergency savings, and retirement accounts. How much did you throw away in 2020?
13. Cook at home more often.
Restaurant food was at the top of the “regrettable spending” list, with 42% of consumers saying they needed to cut back on this. You gain health as well as wealth by eating fewer calories, using better quality ingredients, driving fewer miles, decreasing your exposure to food packaging chemicals, cooking with your family, learning a new skill… And cooking at home takes the same amount or even less time than ordering, driving, and waiting for your takeout.
14. Cancel unused subscriptions and membership.
Many people pay every month on automated payments for stuff they hardly ever use. Look at your credit card or bank statements and list out your memberships and subscriptions. Do you still use them? If not, cancel them today.
15. Reward yourself.
Pay yourself first, before you pay any other bills. Set up an automatic deduction from your paycheck or checking account into investment and 401(k) accounts. Then don’t touch that money.
16. Start saving now for your next car replacement.
Make your “car payment” ahead of time and skip the interest. Student Loan Hero’s survey found that people regretted not saving more specifically for cars. Staying out of debt is a shortcut to financial freedom. Debt makes the lender rich, not you. Pre-saving for a car and paying cash gets you to financial freedom faster.
17. Invest in profitable businesses (your own or other successful businesses).
If you’re reluctant to start your own business, then invest in other successful businesses, i.e., the stock market. Choose a low-cost index fund that tracks with the S&P 500 for starters. Automate new money sent to the account every month and let it grow in the background. This is the simplest way to invest and gives you automatic diversification.
18. Never, ever spend money before you receive it.
Too many people do, on the assumption that a commission or windfall will come in. And too often, it doesn’t.
19. Secure your financial future by increasing your wealth with every paycheck.
The easiest way to do this is to automate deposits into your retirement accounts, emergency savings accounts, and short-term savings accounts with every paycheck. Unseen = unspent.
20. Make “we pay as we go” your personal and family motto for 2021.
It’ll keep you out of financial trouble and lead to financial freedom.
21. Start a side hustle to reduce debt and fund retirement or investment accounts.
As you do, you’ll learn skills that may make you more marketable to your current or future employer.
22. Guard your health.
Yes, this is a key part of wealth building! Too many people spend their health trying to gain wealth, only to be forced to spend their wealth trying to regain their health.
23. Exercise daily – preferably at home or outside.
Many people pay $70 per month for gym memberships that they use once a week… if that. What’s your per-time rate? Yes, it’s important to work out. But think twice before joining a gym, especially if it requires a long contract. Buy exercise DVDs or join BeachBody and stream online for $99 a year. Or walk or run outside in a park for the cost of a good pair of shoes. The ones I recommend are these for women and these for men.
24. Refinance your mortgage.
Rates are at historical lows as we enter 2021. If you plan to stay in your home for several years, it might make sense to refi your mortgage. Depending on your current rate, you could save hundreds of dollars per month. But, do not pull cash out for trips, vacations, income taxes, everyday expenses, or loan consolidation (lest you fall back into the same debt trap again).
25. Invest in a healthy body.
Exercise. Eat healthy homemade food. Drink plenty of clean, filtered water. Don’t trust your city with clean water. Millions are drinking unclean water, even in the U.S. If you need a filter, consider this Berkey. I own (and love) two of them. They also filter out fluoride if you buy the fluoride filters. Reinforce your health with key supplements. Ignore your health to build wealth, and you’ll end up leaving your wealth behind when your health fails.
26. Resist impulse buys.
The biggest risk to your financial freedom is the tendency to buy stuff without thinking, and without a plan. Mark Skousen shares the following proverb in his 30-Day Plan to Financial Independence:
One who spends before he thinks, will always spend more than he thinks.
27. Get all members of your household on the same page financially.
When everyone gives input, you’re more likely to see the whole picture. Plus, they’re more likely to buy into your “austerity plan.” And hey, your kids might even start turning off unused lights.
28. Find a budget that works for you.
A budget is not a magic wand. It’s also not a slave master with a whip. It’s a tool. And like any tool, it only works as well as the people using it. It’s supposed to be a servant to build wealth, not a master killjoy.
29. Set yourself up for an “easy” raise or promotion.
The first step in getting a raise is to understand business. The company must make money for you to have a job. It’s that simple. Adopting a pro-business mindset means you see things through the eyes of the CEO. Their vision, sales challenges, costs, human resource problems, and more. One of any company’s biggest challenges is to get the most from each employee for the dollar it spends. What can you do to make your company more successful? Get the education and know-how for your next raise or promotion now.
30. Learn from interesting, successful people.
Successful people can help bootstrap you to greater success. Send a LinkedIn message asking to interview someone on what made them successful in business. To those you hear back from, explain that you’d love to get success guidelines from someone who’s already made it. Most self-made people are willing to help others succeed.
31. Join business or professional organizations.
This will connect you with other success-minded people. And also give you fresh insights into understanding business from an owner’s viewpoint.
32. Start a business.
Most wealthy people didn’t gain their wealth via inheritance, contrary to popular belief. (Though that can certainly aid wealth accumulation.) The main way the wealthy got that way is that they started a business and grew it. Think Sam Walton, founder of Walmart. Start small, build gradually, and be flexible. This could start (or even stay) as a side hustle.
33. Start your millionaire library today.
Become an avid reader of business and investment books, newsletters, and websites like MyWalletWisdom – be a learner about money and the economy. Here are my personal favorites… including books that every wealth builder should re-read yearly. You’ll gain valuable insights and improve your money-making skills.
34. Give yourself a financial review today.
How much do you own versus owe? Determine your net worth today. Repeat this little exercise the first day of every month. You’ll be encouraged by your progress.
35. Beware the lure of debt.
You used to get thrown into prison for debt. Now you suffer in another prison – the inability to make new choices because last year’s choices have already claimed this year’s income. Credit card statements often include debt for clothes you now hate, restaurant meals eaten ages ago, trips that are mere memories, amusements that lasted for a few hours… The only right way to use a credit card is to discipline your spending and pay off your balance every month.
36. Give of your money (and time).
Successful people pay it forward. They help others. They may be stingy with themselves, but they’re generous toward others.
37. Save for college. And find scholarships.
College debt can severely limit your options as a young adult. The less debt you have, the happier you’ll be.
38. Spend a Saturday freezing meals for dinner.
If there’s food in the freezer, you’re less likely to grab take-out when you don’t feel like cooking.
39. Pack a lunch for work instead of eating out.
It’s healthier, tastier, and much more frugal. I nearly always cook extra for dinner to eat the next day for lunch. And freeze leftovers in lunch-size portions.
40. Substitute games for expensive dates or family outings.
Our family favorites are Sequence, Dutch Blitz, Don’t Make Me Laugh, Ticket to Ride, Risk (we love this 1980 version), Mexican Train, Farkle, Uno, Pictionary, and Scrabble. These games let you spend time with loved ones repeatedly for a low up-front cost.
41. Start saving now for Christmas 2021.
Christmas is not a surprise. It comes every year. So do birthdays. Stay debt-free by setting aside money from every paycheck.
42. When you get a raise or promotion, save or invest most of it.
Try to avoid lifestyle creep, especially if there’s not a good reason for it (i.e., an additional family member, etc.). Remember that a big chunk of that extra money will go to taxes. Try to reserve 75% to 90% of the rest for your financial freedom goals.
43. Celebrate your 2021 financial successes.
Knocked off a debt or two? Bought your first home? Scored a raise, promotion, or new job? It’s time to celebrate! Share your successes. It’ll encourage others. Then get back to doing what you did to attain that success.