Even the most well-thought-out New Year's resolution may not be enough if you don't have the support to help make it happen.
That's according to the 2016 Money Habits & Confessions Survey by LearnVest, which found that 74% of Americans agree that discussing a financial New Year’s resolution with others will make them more likely to stay the course.
Turns out, the power of talking about goals with the people around us is something most of us know intuitively. So why don't we do it?
Bringing up your money goals with friends and family can be awkward. “Since money is such an intimate subject for a lot of people, it has traditionally been very shrouded — we’ve been raised to believe that talking about it is an intrusion,” says Maggie Baker, Ph.D, author of "Crazy About Money: How Emotions Confuse Our Money Choices and What to Do About It." What's more, she says, "It’s human nature to compare yourself with others in your social group, which can make financial conversations uncomfortable."
Whatever your money resolution, here are three reasons why pushing past the awkwardness will pay off.
You’ll Have Someone to Answer to
Staying secretive can tempt you to slack off, since nobody is monitoring your progress. But transparency holds you accountable — and makes you more likely to follow through. In a Dominican University study released in 2015, 62% of people who shared their goals with a friend had either accomplished them or were at least halfway there four weeks later, compared to 43% of those who’d kept them private. And the success rate was even higher (76%) among those who sent weekly progress reports to their buddies.
This extra motivation to deliver good news and not let your friends down plays an important role in reinforcing your commitment. “Ask a friend to check in with you once a month,” Baker suggests.
You’ll Nail Down the Details
Talking through your goal with trusted friends can encourage you to go into detail about your plan — and all the ways you'll get around potential problems. You could get an even stronger handle on how to navigate temptations (like avoiding the mall during end-of-season sales) and what action items will help you reach your goal (such as automating bills).
After you share your goal, ask friends to fire off questions: Will you still eat meals out? Will you increase your 401(k) contributions? If you don't have answers, you’ll firm up your plan. Research bears this out: According to one University of Missouri study, focusing on how you’ll achieve a goal increases your odds.
You’ll Boost Your Motivation
You know how fun it is to talk about a trip in advance. Apply the enthusiasm you feel about a vacation in the Turks & Caicos to retirement contributions and budgeting. Discussing your intentions ahead of time with a friend who’s excited about your mission will boost your morale.
“Excitement has a mirroring effect that can help you stay focused on the positive,” Baker says. “Instead of thinking about what an uphill slog it’s going to be to tighten your purse strings, you’ll imagine the reduction of worry and sense of pride you’ll feel next year, once you’ve made financial progress.”
In other words, sharing your goal gives you a cheerleader. A friend's support lessens the likelihood that you’ll throw in the towel after an unplanned budget binge, for example. And continuing to share details of your progress will give you those periodic boosts that are crucial to helping make a resolution stick.