A person paying for a transaction with eftpos

Financial New Years Resolutions for 2020

People either love or hate New Year’s resolutions. They’re usually pretty standard; exercise, lose weight, eat healthy or learn a new skill. I don’t know about you, but it’s now December and no one around me is bragging that they kept their resolution. So why have I even written this blog? Because you can stick to resolutions if you have a plan!

Most New Year’s resolutions don’t work because the person making them doesn’t think about how they’re going to achieve them. So, let’s make a plan to embrace the fresh start, get our finances in order, and ditch those terrible habits we’ve been carrying around all year.

Commit to a budget

Let’s get one thing straight first, having a budget and being on a budget are two different things.

Being on a budget varies for everyone, but it might mean buying the cheapest clothes, never buying lunch out or trawling websites for the best budget motels if you’re traveling.

Having a budget is creating a plan to spend your money. It can be whatever you want it to be! If you prioritise eating out every weekend with your friends, then set aside more money for that, and cut back on something like clothes shopping.  If an event is coming up, then you can easily rearrange your budget a bit, cut back on one area to save for the event.

Budgets stop you overspending when you really shouldn’t, by helping you keep track of where your money is going. They reduce stress when that electricity bill arrives straight after Splendour in the Grass. The feelings of deprivation and compromise need to be removed from the word ‘budget’ and replaced with freedom because you’re doing what you enjoy without sending yourself into debt.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out our budget blog for some tips! There are heaps of different styles of budgets, so try a few and see which best suits you!

Set a savings goal

You’ve been putting $50 into a separate account each week as savings and it’s piling up. Then your favourite online shop has a sale and it’s so tempting to dip into the savings account just this once… we all know how this ends. Once turns into 10 times, and soon enough your savings are zero.

To stop this, set a savings goal! Dipping into your holiday or car savings for a new pair of Airpods isn’t as appealing. If you don’t have a long term ‘thing’ you want to save towards, why not just set a monetary goal? By December 2020 I will have $2,000 in savings or every paycheck I will save 10%.

Do a no spend challenge

No spend challenges started thanks to the book ‘The No Spend Year’ and it has been adapted by many people to suit them. The challenge is to not spend a cent over the course of a year unless it’s on essentials, like food, toiletries, etc., to really boost your savings. If a year sounds way too long without a splurge or even just a café bought cuppa, why not try a no spend day, week, or month. Shorter bursts are often more achievable and you can extend your no spend time as you progress. The challenge has a few purposes;

  • To save money (obviously),
  • To force you to evaluate your spending habits,
  • To show you that even those small purchases, like a takeaway coffee every day, really do add up.

So why not give it a go? Just remember, even forgoing a $3 coffee every day can mean an extra $1,095 in your bank at the end of the year.

Save for Expensive Life Events

Christmas sneaks up on us every year, but are you struggling to afford all of the costs that come with it too? Then make yourself a goal to save a specific amount of money for it next year! The same goes for anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, festivals, car registration.

If every year you’re stressing about having no money for a specific event, work out how much it costs and how much each week you need to set aside for it. You’ll find yourself stress-free when all the money you need is sitting there waiting. It may also force you to consider if you need to spend so much money on presents and the like.

Start an Emergency Fund

So you’ve been saving all year for Christmas, then December 1st your car breaks down and needs major repairs. Your savings aren’t looking great, and you don’t really want to dip into the Christmas funds… imagine if you had money set aside for emergencies only?

Being at university usually means your budget is pretty small. Your emergency fund doesn’t need to be thousands of dollars though! Maybe you can afford to set aside $5 a week. Trust me, it all makes a difference when that unexpected event pops up, even if it doesn’t quite cover the whole cost.

Read a Financial Book

Again, New Year’s resolutions fail due to a lack of planning. Luckily, there are some really good and easy to understand books now that speak about your finances. To save money you don’t even need to buy them! Check out your local library, ask a friend to borrow theirs or sign up to something like Audible that gives you the first month (and book) free!

There are so many financial books, but not all of them will suit you and your budget. The ones below are just a suggestion of what is most popular and seem most helpful at the moment.

  • The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape – There is almost a cult following for this book right now, so they must be onto something!
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki – This book celebrated its 20th birthday in 2017 with an updated edition, and is reportedly the number 1 personal finance book of all time!
  • The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey – This book has sold over 5 million copies! That says it all I think.
  • Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin – Another book that was so popular it was updated in 2018 to stay relevant.
  • Money by Laura Whateley – This book is one of the newest of the lot and seems to be more aimed at 20-30 year olds.
  • The No Spend Year by Michelle McGagh – If it piked your interest earlier, then dive in and see why the author decided to do it, and what she gained from it.

One of the biggest things to remember when making your budget is it doesn’t have to be restrictive!

Having a budget does not mean no takeaway, no nights out, or no fun. It just means you are aware of how much money you have, and what you have to spend it on. No two people have the same income or expenses, so make your budget and financial goals suit you!

Good luck! We hope your 2020 is successful and enjoyable!


If you are really struggling to make ends meet, or you’re in an emergency financial situation, get in touch with us! We provide a range of financial assistance and can discuss with you some options to suit your circumstances.

You’re never alone at UNE.