Expert advice

Dec 27, 2013,13.55 IST

New Year – Time to make resolutions or Time to form habit!

Gaurav Mashruwala

Is beginning of New Year time to make promises to ourselves or time to break promises to ourselves? Many of us make New Year resolutions. Most of those resolutions if implemented thoroughly will have water shading impact on our lives. However there is a big “IF”. We end up breaking those resolutions more often than not. Every time we break a resolution, it’s a promise broken to ourselves. More promises we break; less is our confidence level and will power.

Someone had jokingly said “My New Year’s Resolution is to break my New Year’s Resolutions....That way I succeed at something!”

Reason why most of the times we end up breaking a resolution is because of our ego. Most of our resolutions are too big to be achieved at one go but somehow our ego prohibits us from making small resolutions.

What will happen to someone; who regularly gets up at 8:30 am every day morning suddenly resolves to get up at 06:30 am. This is big jump. His/her body clock will revolt and soon s/he will give up. Instead of this big jump make a small resolution. Resolve to get up early by 5 min every week compared to previous week. Week 1 get up at 08:25 am, next week 08:20 am, third week 08:15 am.  At the end of one month you would be getting up by 08:10 am. This is still considered late but if you stick to your strategy within 6 months you will start getting up at 06:30 am.

Somehow we feel resolution to get up 5 mins early every week compared to previous week is too small to be achieved and hence we trivialise it in our mind. We do not like to do trivial things.

Trick to achieve any kind of resolution is not to make big resolution but to make small one and adhere to it regularly until it becomes your habit. Once it becomes your habit/routine, growth will follow. Remember age old saying “Slow but steady wins the race.”

There are few financial resolutions....oops habit you can decide to form in coming year.

If you have not been saving regularly start saving only Rs 500 every month in mutual fund through SIP. It does not matter which scheme and where you invest. Just form that habit. If Rs 500 is too big for you start small recurring deposit of Rs 50 in nationalised bank. I recollect suggesting a school boy in neighbourhood to start recurring deposit of Rs 5 in post-office 7/8 years ago. Few months ago I bumped into him again. He is now 21 years old and doing part-time job along with his higher education and doing SIP of Rs 5,000. I have no doubt this boy will create wealth.

For all those who struggle to track household expenses, here is a trick. Ensure to note down only your fixed expenses like EMI, rent, school fees etc. Ensure to note it down within 24 hours of making payment. This is easy. In case of fixed, recurring expenses amount is constant and date of payment is known. Start with 1/2 category of your choice and keep adding a category every 2 months. See the results after a year. If you are able to track majority of fixed, recurring expenses then after a year think of tracking variable expenses like eating out, movies, coffee etc. Only at the end of 2/3 year go on to track daily household expenses.

Start clipping your credit card charge slips. Every time you swipe a card, collect the charge-slips and clip it. Keep that clip in your cupboard where you normally keep you money purse. This will ensure that after returning home when you open cupboard to keep money purse, you will see the clip and tuck in the charge slip. Develop this small habit for 6 months. Once you develop this habit, next start keeping separate clips for different categories of expenses e.g. clip for charge-slips of eating out, clip for clothes & accessories etc. Develop this habit. After another 6 months start tabulating and soon you will be on your way to track credit card spending.

Starting Rs 500 SIP, tracking 2 fixed expenses or clipping credit card charge slips is not a big thing. But if you develop that habit, over a period of time, it will have huge benefits for you.

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