People who make financial New Year's resolutions often keep them, according to a new survey released by the Lutheran Brotherhood in Minneapolis.
Though only 16 percent of Americans made financial resolutions last year, 73 percent of them followed through, the survey found. Yankelovich Partners surveyed 1,004 Americans in November.
An recent informal survey of shoppers at The Mall in Columbia found that many set financial goals, but not necessarily at the start of the year. Folks also said they usually accomplish their goals, particularly when there are incentives.
"In January you realize how much you spent in December, and you're shocked into making resolutions," said Chester Slevinski, 63, a retired accountant from Silver Spring.
He said that at the start of each year he maps out what his income and expenses will be for the coming year.
Elizabeth Wing, 19, of Columbia said she tries not to make New Year's resolutions because they usually don't last more than a week. But she said she does sometimes make financial resolutions during the year -- especially when her credit card bills skyrocket.
"You have to plan ahead and sell back the presents you didn't want to pay off your credit cards," Wing said.
The Lutheran Brotherhood survey found that men and women were equally likely to make financial resolutions, and that young adults were five times more likely to do so than seniors. People in middle-income brackets (earning $35,000 to $50,000 annually) VTC were twice as likely to make resolutions than those earning below $20,000.
Among the people who said they make financial New Year's resolutions, the top goal was to save more money. Respondents also thought it was important to put more money toward retirement and to reduce debt.
Financial planners say goals should be set throughout the year, not just at the beginning. David Drucker, president of Sunset Financial Management in Bethesda, said he meets with his clients and sets goals with them regularly. There is nothing special or meaningful about the new year, he said.
"It really doesn't matter what time of the year you set the goals, as long as you set them," said Deborah Voso, a certified financial planner and president of Voso Associates in Frederick. But, she said, the beginning of the year is a time when people are thinking about their finances, so setting financial New Year's resolutions is a good idea.
"There's a lot of activity in January that makes people think money," Voso said. "They get ready for taxes and they see their year-end statements."