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Confession: I’m not a fan of making New Year’s resolutions. I can never decide on specifics past “get fit” and I don’t like the expectation of seemingly inevitable failure — we all know that the “faithful” January gym-goers typically start to drop like flies come February.

This year, however, I’ve decided to test myself by making a few healthy resolutions of a different sort – financial resolutions. I want 2018 to be the year of savvy saving and smart spending. As a young contributing member to society in my mid-20s, the time to establish good lifelong money habits is now, to ensure a healthy financial future.

Here are four financial new year’s resolutions for myself, and other 20-somethings that want to save this year, but don’t know where to start.

Get serious about saving for retirement

Most young people in the workforce today are already feeling the vigorous pressures of having to save for retirement. Long gone are the company pension plans that our parents and grandparents may have enjoyed many years ago. My golden years may seem light years away, but if I don’t start saving properly now, I’ll be paying for the mistakes I made in my 20s… when I’m in my 70s.

Seriously think about it – If you don’t start saving money now, how can you live comfortably in your old age without a steady income?

In 2018, I plan to sit down with a financial advisor and figure out how much I should start putting aside for retirement, as well as where I should put these savings. I recently learned if I want to make my money work for me, a regular savings account isn’t enough. It’s time to look into high-interest earning options and investment opportunities, like GICsRRSPs and TFSAs.

Spend where it counts

When I need something — from shoes to cookware — I often buy based on the price tag, not the quality of the item, like the frugal young adult I am. At the time of purchase, this seems like a cost-saving measure, but in the long run, it’s a practice that ends up costing more. Cheap often translates to low quality (not always, but often). And this means that sooner than later, a replacement will be required. This year, I want to save for the things I need, research my options and buy quality items that will last, even if it means spending a bit more. 

Actually read statements

I no longer receive paper bank or credit card statements as I’ve opted to read my statements online. However, this means having to log into various accounts, downloading documents, and inevitable screen-squinting as I scroll through the PDF file.  I often forget about the emails alerting me that my statement is ready and if I do remember, I usually don’t have the patience to go through it line by line. But that forgetfulness and laziness means I could be missing fraudulent charges, or a pile-up of unnecessary fees that I could reduce (beware of those credit card insurance fees). In 2018, I want to make a habit out of reading my statements diligently, so I can see where my money goes, own up to areas where I’ve overspent, and figure out ways to cut costs and save.

Learn how to say no

Millennials, including myself, have been known to be plagued with FOMO — fear of missing out. If an invitation for dinner, drinks or an event comes my way, I will say yes nine times out of 10. But being a “yes” person comes with a price tag. For the sake of “having a good time”, I often shell out money I should probably keep in my wallet. I don’t plan on becoming a homebody just to save a few bucks but in 2018, but I definitely want to be more selective with where and how I spend my money. Taco Tuesday can be just as fun (and cheaper) at home as it is at a Mexican restaurant.

Sometimes it’s hard to see into the future and make plans accordingly. Especially when you’re so young and there’s no real telling where you’ll be, let’s say, 10 years from now. However, it can be guaranteed that wherever you are, you’ll need money. The best way to start the new year is by promising yourself to make healthy financial habits that will last a lifetime.

This post has been updated.

Jaclyn Tersigni

Jaclyn Tersigni is a Toronto-based writer and editor. She's written on everything from tea sommeliers to motorcycle-riding granddads to regifting etiquette. With a journalism degree from Ryerson University, she got her start at ELLE Canada and The Globe and Mail. Her interests and hobbies include all things ocean-related (notably, the beach, oysters and surf culture), overbuying used books and clothing, riding her bike all over town and, most importantly, music old and new.

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