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Looking to achieve some major financial goals this year? Learn how you two can easily create an effective system to have money wins!

Tomorrow, a new year begins, and many people start it off by setting resolutions or goals.

I get it – it's a fresh start and for many, an opportunity to hit a huge goal. If you look at the numbers, though, things don't look so rosy for New Year’s resolutions.

Most People Fail with Their Goals

Here’s the deal – most people fail to reach their goals, despite how important or straight forward they seem.

Can you guess how many people fail with their goals for the new year?


60% maybe?

Would you believe 92% of people fail with their resolutions?!

Why such a high failure rate?

Surprisingly a huge factor is how they design their goals.

Let me show you what most people get wrong and how to fix it by examining some common money goals.

The Most Popular Money Goals People Make

According to the Fidelity’s 2023 Financial Resolutions Study, 66% of Americans plan to prioritize their finances. A big reason for that is because more than one-third of Americans say they’re in worse financial shape than last year.

The most common financial goals people make for this upcoming year are:

  • Save more [39%]
  • Pay down debt [32%]
  • Spend less [28%]

These are fantastic and effective goals to strive for, but most couples will give up before making a meaningful impact.

Why Most Goals Fail

Look at how these goals are presented and see what they are missing. A few things that stand out to me:

  • Too Vague. There's no actual end goal. Let’s take save more. How will you know you're done? Is saving an extra $5/month enough of a win or are you trying to save $500?
  • No Way to Track Your Progress. Most people don't change overnight, so to stay motivated it's good to see how far you came. It’s so helpful to see that you’re paying an extra $100, $300, whatever it is towards your debts. These goals don't have that option.
  • No Why. Yes, getting out of debt and saving more are financially savvy moves. They are only part of the equation though. why do you want to get out of debt? Why do you want to have more savings? Those answers will help you discover what's your true motivation and be a crucial step to making sure you achieve your goals.

So you now know what not to do. How can you set yourselves up for wins next year?

Make some SMART goals!

How to Create SMART Goals Together

If you've listened to the podcast or known me for a bit, you know that I'm a fan of SMART goals.

For those unfamiliar with SMART goals, here are the key things you need to know when making them.

  • Specific: Choose a specific goal. Don’t say ’save more’, but instead choose ‘put aside 5% of our paychecks into savings for our emergency fund.’
  • Measurable: How do you know when you reached your goal? If you are saving an emergency fund up, consider setting aside 3-6 months of your living expenses in the account and track your progress.
  • Attainable: It's better to work on a few goals at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Be gazelle intense on the ones you have.
  • Result focused: Make sure your goal is something you can do and truly believe in. Have a plan of action that you can sustain.
  • Time-Based: By setting a deadline, you can work backward and break down the steps you need to take and make those your milestones along the way.

What I love about SMART goals is how quickly you can build up a rough sketch of how you can tackle your financial goals.

It can also help you identify if you’re tacking on too much, making it easy to either scale down the amount or extend your deadline.

Design Your SMART Money Goals

When you have a few minutes this weekend, go ahead, look over your goals and see if you can reframe them into SMART goals.

This will give you a huge leg up and make it easier the two of you to create a plan that makes sense for your budget and timeline.

Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money This Year

It’s easy to get stuck with the living paycheck to paycheck cycle. We all have so much going on, it's easy to push back our financial goals down the road.

If you want to achieve big things together with your money, grab a copy of my book Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money!

Inside Jumpstart, you will learn to:

  • get on the same page with finances
  • create a budget you both will love (Yes, it's possible!)
  • pay down debt faster and get on the path to financial independence

My book is designed for busy couples to set up their finances in 4 weeks.

Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Your Big Money Goals

I'd love to hear from you! What are your big goals this year? What's your game plan to achieve them?

This post was originally posted in December 2017. It has been updated December 2022.

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

2 comments add your comment

  1. Great post! I highly agree that goals should be SMART!

    I think you shouldn’t wait to New Year resolutions to set goals. Goals should be set all year – no need to wait with pursuing your goals 🙂

    • Agreed!
      Now is always the best time to start.
      However, I think plenty of people like to make goals at the beginning of the month or year. Whenever made, the important part is following through.