New Years Financial ResolutionsAs December marches toward a close, people around the world are finding themselves reaching the end of 2017 and looking forward to a new year. It’s traditional for many people to make resolutions, wishes or goals in the weeks leading up to Jan. 1 and while not everyone participates in New Year’s resolutions, enough do that it got us curious what kinds of financial resolutions they might be making. That’s why we surveyed* 1,010 men and women between the ages of 18 and 70+ to find out all about their financial resolutions — those they made for 2017, as well as those they plan to make for 2018. We wanted to know what kinds of financial goals people are prioritizing, as well as how they view their personal finance journey from the past year. Wondering how the average person’s goals compare to yours? Keep reading to find out.

How successful were people’s goals in 2017?

To start off, we wanted to know whether people made financial-related resolutions for 2017, what those were and how successful they were. The majority — 66% — said they didn’t make financial resolutions for 2017, though it seemed like many had changed their minds when it came to setting goals for 2018, as 42% said they would make financial resolutions in 2018, 21% said they weren’t sure and only 37% said they would not. Of those who made financial resolutions in 2017, 51% said they were somewhat successful, 32% said they were completely successful and 17% admitted they failed. We wanted to know why those who failed to complete some or all of their financial resolutions in 2017 thought they went awry, and a whopping 49% indicated a personal emergency derailed their progress. Other reasons included that they didn’t know how to reach their goals (15%), they set unrealistic goals for themselves (14%), they were too busy (12%) and they lost interest (10%). Whenever you think about your finances, it’s important to know how to handle emergencies, as they can certainly happen at any time and interrupt your progress.

What kinds of financial goals do people want to work toward?

We all prioritize things a little differently in our lives, but there seemed to be a strong recurring theme in our survey results — overall, the top priorities for a majority of our respondents in 2018 (note that respondents were allowed to pick multiple goals) were creating a savings (36%), paying off debt (31%), sticking to a budget (26%) and building or improving their credit (25%). Additional responses included making a large purchase (14%), obtaining a new credit card (5%) or a new loan (3%) as well as a number of other specific goals that people wrote in. These included saving for retirement, investing their money, starting a business, paying for school and donating more money to charity. When we broke the cohort into two groups based on age, one made up of those ages 18 to 49 (520 of the total group) and the other ages 50 to 70+ (490 of the total group), the order of priority didn’t shift too much, but there was a rather significant difference in how many people in the younger group were planning on working toward a specific financial goal versus the older group. For example, 46% of the younger group indicated they plan to create a savings in 2018, compared to just 25% of those in the older group. Similarly, a mere 12% of the older respondents said they want to improve their credit in the next year, while 37% of the younger respondents put that as a priority. As those under 50 are largely still working and figuring their lives out, it makes sense that they might feel more of a pressing need to tackle things like improving their credit or paying off debt.

The bottom line is that no matter who you are, what your age or where you’re at in your life, it’s likely that you have some goals in mind when it comes to your finances. The best part is that they don’t have to be fully formed before the ball drops.

You can make financial resolutions any time of the year

One of the most significant results we had across the board was an indication that many people simply don’t make financial resolutions at the start of the year. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (71%) said they don’t think New Year’s resolutions are an effective way to tackle financial goals, compared to 29% who said they are. While it can be fun to set goals for yourself, whether financial or otherwise, on Jan. 1, it’s important not to lose steam as the year progresses. For many people, financial goals and needs shift on a less-than-predictable basis, so it’s wise to assess, and then reassess your finances all year round. One effective way to tackle any kind of goal, be it financial or otherwise, is to write it down and share it with others. While 57% of our survey participants said they prefer to keep their financial goals in their heads, it can be helpful to use an app or computer program (or an old-fashioned calendar or spreadsheet) to keep track of your progress. You can also talk to family, especially your significant other, about financial goals to keep yourself accountable and learn from them.

If you aren’t sure where to start or how to tackle your financial goals, you can get help at any point in the year by following our personal finance blog.

*The survey was written by NextAdvisor and responses were collected through SurveyMonkey from Dec. 15, 2017 to Dec. 16, 2017. The sample consisted of 1,010 individuals — 473 men and 537 women.