10 Resolution Ideas for 2020


WalletHub just came out with their 10 financial resolutions they recommend in the new year, and thought some of them were pretty good. Particularly for those just starting out in their journeys.

Any of these strike your fancy?

#1. Repay 20% of your credit card debt

If you have none, and/or are a baller, go for 20% of your mortgage!

#2. Add one month’s pay to your emergency fund

(Especially if you plan to use them for destination weddings ;))

#3. Pay bills right after getting your paycheck

I know that experts recommend “paying yourself first”, but I’ve always liked knocking out my bills as fast as I could too. At first this was on paydays, and then later in life moved to *the day the bills actually hit my inbox* so they’d never build up and/or have me forget about them. Plus – I don’t know about you – but I get this weird joy of paying off bills no matter how big or small as if it was some sort of game :) Maybe it’s the “checking thing off the list” type thing, or perhaps being appreciative that I even CAN pay off my bills at any time!, but either way I much prefer it than dreading them, haha… Are you the same?

#4. Make a realistic budget & stick to it

Key word there being “realistic”. If you’re done with budgeting right now, try tracking your net worth instead. A lot less time intensive, but still shows you pretty bluntly how well or not you’re doing each month. Plus gives you a much broader picture of how all your finances come together!

#5. Use different credit cards for everyday purchases & debt

I’m not too sure about this one, especially if you don’t handle cards too well, but here’s the reasoning from WalletHub:

The Island Approach involves using different accounts to serve different financial needs, as if they are a chain of islands. The most basic example is using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases and a 0% APR card for balances that you’ll carry from month to month. Doing so enables you to get the best possible terms on each card, rather than settling for average terms on a single card. It will also help you reduce the cost of your debt, considering everyday purchases won’t be inflating your average daily balance

#6. Look for a better job

That’s not a bad one to focus on for a year! Even if you’re perfectly content with where you are it never hurts to keep your eyes open in case something better/more fulfilling comes along your way… And if you’re already loving your job, perhaps shoot for *advancing* there instead by the end of the year! That’s do-able in 12 months at most places, yeah?

#7. Sign up for credit monitoring

Not sure this is the most challenging goal to shoot for in an entire year, haha…, but yeah – monitoring it is always a good idea if you’re not already doing so. And at the very least you could just pull your credit *report* each year (for free) that everyone has access to through federal law: AnnualCreditReport.com

#8. Improve your credit score by 20 points

Now that’s a fun one! Which you could work simultaneously w/ the credit *monitoring* since you’d be able to see the changes month in and month out. Some tricks for this (depending on how much you trust yourself with credit!) is calling to get your limits raised as high as possible to improve your debt-to-credit ratio, as well as opening up new cards and then putting something on them every few months and right away paying them off to show how “responsible” you are. And sometimes just picking up the phone and *asking* to have your credit RATES lowered can work too! I was amazed when I first saw this in Ramit’s book, and then tried it out for myself and it worked :)

#9. Focus on your physical health

Not exactly a *financial* resolution, but of course it all ties together with stuff. If you’re wishing you’d be more active, I advise fostering a puppy for a week and seeing what that does! We’re 5 days into doing this ourselves and my daily walk ratio has already tripled!! Haha… Plus you get all that extra love and endorphins flowing through you which HAS to have a good effect on your well-being ;) All the way up to at least *parting* with your pup, which I’m very not looking forward too and hoping just maybe we can end up keeping her in the end?? PRETTY PLEASE HONEY??

UPDATE: We adopted her this weekend!! OMG!!!

#10. Get an A in Wallet Literacy

WalletHub of course has a quiz for this, so you can easily gauge your knowledge *now* in 2019, and then try again at the end of 2020 to see how much you’ve improved –> WalletLiteracy

I took it last in April and scored an A-. Some of the answers I got wrong were:

  • Which type of car insurance coverage will pay for damage to your car from an accident that you cause?
  • When someone bounces a check, who is usually charged a fee?
  • Rank the following sources of funding for higher education from best to worst…

Try it out and see if you can beat me :)

Anyone have other good $$$ goals they’ll be shooting for in 2020? Anyone still working on theirs from 2019?! ;)

I have yet to select mine, but thinking it’ll continue along the lines of “living more” as it’s been one of the best things I’ve focused on lately… I talk a little more about it on a recent podcast I was on if interested: BiggerPockets Money Podcast 103: Budgets Really ARE Sexy! with J. Money

Happy Friday!

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  1. Slackerjo December 20, 2019 at 7:13 AM

    After 1.5 years I’ve had it with my current employer. The only positive thing about working there is that I fine tuned my budget and figured out what I can live on comfortably.

    1. J. Money December 20, 2019 at 5:19 PM

      Sounds like you’re ready for some Big Moves this year!

  2. Chris December 20, 2019 at 7:39 AM

    We do something strange I never heard of anyone doing. We don’t have high incomes. I am working a temp job, which may be finished in March. It’s been off and on for around 3 years. My husband is over 55 and I’m over 50 so we can contribute extra to our retirement. He maxes out his 401K. I contributed money to my IRA, which I haven’t done in approximately 10 years. We started an HSA last year but are using it for an investment, not for medical bills. This would change if we absolutely had to use it for medical bills. We are living off our take-home pay but we also have had to dip into our savings a little bit but that is the plan because we are using some of our savings (not much) instead of our income. Our savings has already had the income tax paid on it and our income, because of all the retirement/investment contributions, is so low, we don’t have much taxes. I am not sure how long we can do this since my temp job apparently is ending but other jobs at my same workplace have ended and then they found something else they needed me to do, so we’ll see how that goes. Anyway, I never heard of anyone else doing this before. I think our income last year after all our deductions and taxes was less than $25,000 total, if I remember right. Thought I’d throw that out there. It’s blogs like these that have really helped me. I knew nothing about these things before. In fact, I wish I would have contributed to my IRA the last two years but I didn’t think about it. Also, your post about Question Everything was a big help to me.

    1. Chris December 20, 2019 at 7:41 AM

      To clarify, when I said we are using our savings for our bills instead of our income, I mean the extra income we would have if we hadn’t been doing so many contributions. Of course, we use our income for our bills. :)

  3. Chris December 20, 2019 at 7:48 AM

    Time is flying. We actually started the HSA this year. It seems like last year because it was last year’s open enrollment. We do a lot of the things mentioned in this article. We love to travel so we use different credit cards for things, like motel and flights. Right now we are mostly using one credit card to simplify things but we always try to do what is to our advantage. One thing we do NOT do is have a budget. We have never really had a budget. My husband thinks it’s living by too many rules. So I guess we are pretty strange about that. Most of the time, I do keep track of how much money we spend though and we don’t have a lot of bills, so I guess it evens out. :)

    1. J. Money December 20, 2019 at 6:42 PM

      So glad you found money blogs!! They changed my life too over the years :) That Challenge Everything mission was fun to do – maybe we need to revive it again?!

  4. MK December 20, 2019 at 7:57 AM

    I am seriously going to work on getting my investment/retirement accounts in order so they are working harder for me. I did just reach one goal this very week – I paid off my mortgage in full!!! Now that I have additional funds to work with, I want to make sure I’m doing the best I can to insure a good retirement.

    1. J. Money December 20, 2019 at 6:43 PM

      I think you win The Game already with having the house paid off, haha… Congratulations :)

  5. Adam December 20, 2019 at 9:37 AM

    These Wallethub tips are solid, at least for those who haven’t quite implemented them yet! I’m staring 40 in the face next month, so #9 is high in my mind; I worked up to a comfortable 5k run every other morning but quit in early November when cold and dark got the better of me. It’ll be nice to get back in that game come March or so, when the temptation to hibernate has passed.

    1. J. Money December 20, 2019 at 6:43 PM

      Heyyy we’re only one month apart! I turn 40 next week – eek!

  6. TB from Midwest December 20, 2019 at 10:15 AM

    I always enjoy taking personal finance assessments, thanks for sharing. I scored 24/30 (B+) on this one. Other than one question that I misread, every question I missed was related to debt (i.e. credit cards, credit score, college debt). This wasn’t surprising to me, as the only real debt I’ve ever carried is our mortgage and occasional short-term auto loans. Our credit scores are well over 800, so have never had to really pay much attention to how it is impacted, although I have a general idea and was able to answer most questions correctly. Given the complexities of fees/interest associated with credit cards, it makes sense why these companies are so profitable. In my opinion, credit cards should be considered a form of predatory lending, especially when limits are excessive and credit scores are already low.

    1. J. Money December 20, 2019 at 6:46 PM

      I know, some are pretty insane :( how they’re able to charge 20%, 25% and even more is beyond me… And payday *loans* are even worse!! To the population that needs the most help!

  7. Jason Butler December 20, 2019 at 10:48 AM

    I love number 9. It’s something that I’ve been working on the last couple of years. I plan on getting into yoga sometime next year.

    1. J. Money December 20, 2019 at 6:47 PM

      If you figure out how to make it stick, please let me know! I’ll join you in it! :)

  8. Moneybee December 20, 2019 at 12:05 PM

    I’d like to have a net worth of $10k by the end of next year. (I feel like that’s still woefully low, considering some bloggers the age I’ll be next year are already over $100k.) I also have a goal related to side hustle income.

    The rest of my financial resolutions are tied to my ‘fiscal year’, which starts the date I moved out of my parents’ house instead of January 1. My goals for FY 2019 are to have a positive net worth (on track), have my total spending on gifts and donations be more than my total spending on myself (on track), spend the same or lower percentage of my income on myself as I did last year (not on track), and keep my total number of transactions below a certain number (same idea as no spend days, but you can’t game the system by doing lots of spending on the same day)(not on track).

    1. J. Money December 20, 2019 at 6:51 PM

      Ahhh you are fascinating me over here!!

      2 things:

      1) When you say – “total spending on gifts and donations be more than my total spending on myself” – are you talking about at Xmas time? Or the ENTIRE YEAR?? If it’s the latter, how on earth do you do that??! (And are we only talking “wants” with spending on yourself? can’t be all expenses, right?!)

      2) “Keep my total number of transactions below a certain number (same idea as no spend days, but you can’t game the system by doing lots of spending on the same day)” – LOVE THIS!! And I suppose you can still game it by just buying MORE per *transaction*, but still a fun little challenge to try for sure… Making a note of this in our next “ideas” roundup on the blog – thx :)

      1. Moneybee December 23, 2019 at 9:34 AM

        Yeah, I could have described that better. What I’m comparing in the ‘percentage of income’ goal and the ‘gifts and donations’ goal is my ‘Me’ spending category, which is spending on wants for just me. (So eating out or going to an event isn’t counted if it’s with my partner or friends or coworkers.) Mostly clothes I want but don’t need and fancy writing supplies. The big ones this year are a Kickstarter contribution (for Habitica!) and a figure skating streaming subscription.

        1. J. Money December 23, 2019 at 10:37 AM

          Makes sense! And still very much love the idea!! Have been thinking about it all weekend and considering trying it myself in the new year :) You might see a post on it!!

  9. Richard December 20, 2019 at 2:03 PM

    Love some of the suggested resolutions. I have two.

    For 2020 I resolve to:

    1. Stay on track! Only 21 more mortgage payments. The first one hits bank next week. Then 15 months after the mortgage is gone, we will be 100% debt free. 36 Months or less, if we stay the course. 2020 will be all about tempering the excitement and continuing to hammer on the debt.

    2. Better manage personal information security. I have to change my password at work every 60 days. I am going to implement that into all my financial accounts. I don’t use any common passwords, but have had random charges pop up. CC companies are quick to fix. It helps that I have the use alerts set to a low threshold, so if someone dings my account I know about it right away.

    1. J. Money December 20, 2019 at 6:57 PM

      Nice man!! 21 seems SO LOW compared to what you start with!! What an amazing feeling that is going to be!! Love your 2nd resolution too – especially when it’s seeming easier and easier for hackers to grab your stuff… If only they used their powers for good :(

      1. Richard December 20, 2019 at 9:48 PM

        It is low! We started with a 30 year loan exactly 10 years ago. Total time to pay off currently at 11 years and 9 months. To make it more rewarding I have these two challenges for myself.
        Our 23rd wedding anniversary is in the month of the 19th payment. Already working the numbers to ave the balance at 0. If I am really good, the wife’s 50th birthday is month 14. It is her pushing that got us on track. Letting her write the last payment on her birthday would really make her smile!

        1. J. Money December 23, 2019 at 10:38 AM

          BEST. GIFT. EVER.

  10. Sarah M December 20, 2019 at 7:57 PM

    On this wild and crazy Friday night, I took your challenge to complete the financial literacy quiz and nailed that A!

    One of my goals for 2020 is to find a new bank to stash our liquid cash. We relocated to Jacksonville, FL and are only familiar with the large national banks who pay lame rates. Any Jax-area readers out here have recommendations for area banks? I consulted NerdWallet and while the myriad online options are appreciated, I’m also curious about local institutions.

    1. J. Money December 23, 2019 at 10:52 AM

      Excellent score – good job on beating me!

      I like the idea of going local too :) Particularly with *credit unions* who are built FOR their members instead of for profit… Maybe just pop into a few that’s along your daily path and see if any of them warm your spirits? You can go *online* too for the BEST rates out there, but there’s still something about physical banks that can’t always be replicated that route… Another option though if you still find yourself stuck after a while.

  11. Kari December 22, 2019 at 8:55 AM

    These are good suggestions. I just paid off a vehicle – 30 months early. I saved almost $1600 by doing so. Now I’m going to throw that ‘extra’ money to student loans and goal is to pay it off this year!

    Quick question – is there any point to asking for a lower interest rate on CC even if I don’t carry any balances? I see that asking for a higher limit helps credit score but interest rate? No effect, right?

    Happy Holiday everyone!


    1. Christine December 23, 2019 at 9:17 AM

      I agree with this–I never bother dealing with my interest rate because I don’t carry a balance. I did open a 0% APR card when we first moved into this house to spread out paying for a bunch of repairs and furnishings, but to me the best thing is to NOT pay interest! I’m not sure how increasing credit limits affect score–not sure if it’s counted in a formula as an element of “trust” OR if it just reduces your debt to credit ratio, which if you don’t have much debt, wouldn’t make a difference. Good questions! :)

      1. J. Money December 23, 2019 at 10:56 AM

        It’ll still show you are good with money if you have a large ass credit line you’re not tapping :) As for the *interest rate* though, I don’t believe that makes a difference but I’ve also never looked it up… The rate typically reflects the credit worthiness just as the score itself does, so if you don’t have any debts it probably doesn’t matter much (unless you want to make sure Future You is okay in the event you do take on debts later?)

  12. Kathy December 22, 2019 at 7:48 PM

    I want to make extra money by sewing nice clothes whose patterns are not common. My colleagues always tell me that I have an eye for fashion and complement me even when I have not put any effort into what I am wearing. I have already taken design and sewing courses and am in the process of making some samples.

    1. J. Money December 23, 2019 at 10:57 AM


      Maybe you can start a blog that features your daily outfits, which’ll then give you a place to market your new services too? :) The more credibility you can put out there the more chances of success! (And if you go for it, I want an email with the link please so I can check it out too! I love fashion! :))

    1. J. Money December 23, 2019 at 10:58 AM

      Haha, yup :)

      Killer blog name btw – going now to check it out!

  13. Christine December 23, 2019 at 9:12 AM

    OMG, KEEP the puppy! I finally got a dog (as a pup of 14 weeks) after years and years of wanting one and not being able to have one (due to schedule and places I lived where they were not allowed), and it’s awesome. I do believe he’s improved my life immeasurably. :) He is now 6 months but still all puppy and as I watch him snooze here while I work, I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

    My biggest financial challenge is a budget–and mostly between me and my husband. I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to stick to a set number for misc purchases, but my goal is to try. We have been spending an obscene amount on food, and the hubs just doesn’t even look at prices at all while buying food. My goal is to try the envelope approach for several categories of spending. I’ve tried this in the past and didn’t have great success. It’s just too easy to use a card. But I think having a succinct amount for the two of us to spend that is physical would help. We’ll see!

  14. Christine December 23, 2019 at 9:35 AM

    And thanks for the quiz link. I love quizzes. I scored an A. Missed 2–one about the fee versus interest credit card (in doing the math I forgot it was an APR not a MPR!). And, missed the one on when a card starts charging interest on a new purchase if you carry a balance. While I’m glad to know the answers, I’m gladder to know it doesn’t matter since I pay off my cards each month!

  15. Tina December 23, 2019 at 11:14 AM

    This is my year of saving – maybe even to the point of some slight deprivation. Just this one year. I will dump at least $50K into my various accounts. I say at least because I’m also up for a promotion that seems pretty secure and if I receive that, I am also committing to every additional penny each paycheck from that raise to also go into my accounts. This is build up to next year when I will max out my retirement accounts and then save the cash to live on the following year and plan for an April 3, 2022 quit date (by that time, it will be worth putting in a few extra months to get my 2021 bonus and since I’m not “eligible” to retire, I have to be employed at the time of the March payout to receive it). After years of saving with the end goal feeling so far away, it’s crazy to think I could have 50+ hours back in my life in just a little over 2 years!

    1. J. Money December 23, 2019 at 11:57 AM

      AHHHH so exciting!!! And well worth it for just *one* year too! Gonna set yourself up GOOD with that – I hope you do it!! Will you email me over the year to let me know how it’s going?? What a great challenge! :)

  16. Simon December 24, 2019 at 8:51 AM

    I am think for me it has to be number 4 but tracking net worth more than anything else. Were currently in a fortunate position of having a decent sized investment portfolio, but also have some interest free credit card debt. This came from covering some big costs such as a house move etc, so rather than selling investment s we put it on an interest free card.

    I think by tracking net worth to get the overall picture it should put the small interest free debt into perspective as it’s covered several times over elsewhere.

    1. J. Money December 24, 2019 at 9:57 AM

      Totally! Try it out and see how it makes you feel! And fwiw I’m the same with with debt stuff – I’d much rather put it on a card for a while or something and pay off with cash flow than tap investments. Guess it just depends on how much you hate debt or not :)

  17. Pinch December 25, 2019 at 6:27 AM

    11) Continue to raise the money I invest each month by 1%. Over time this will, again, prompt a review of how I am spending my money in general and where I can cut back / negotiate lower rates.
    12) As my personal pension now generates enough dividends each months to make a full, cost efficient, purchase each month – open a 2nd pension with Vanguard at the beginning of the new tax year in April. Advantage of the Vanguard pension is going to be commission-free purchases if I use their bulk-buying service. And on the ETF I buy there is also no tax payable.
    13) Consider moving a large chunk of my workplace pension into either my personal pension I already have or the new pension with Vanguard. My workplace pension currently costs 0.17% per year which is okay but they are changing funds and with it come higher fees. I think the new fees are between 0.25% – 0.30% – not terrible but Vanguard and my personal pension both only charge 0.15%.

    As for the list from the post – # 2 and #9 are the main points to focus on for me next year. Everything else is already in place and my score in the quiz was B- – undoubtedly due to me not knowing the finer points of insurance questions in the US.

    Merry Crhistmas to all!

    Regards, Pinch

    1. J. Money December 27, 2019 at 7:14 AM

      Merry Christmas!

      Love the “upping it by 1%” every year route! small moves that make big impacts! :)

  18. Pinch December 27, 2019 at 12:01 PM

    Hi J,
    Apologies but I meant “Continue to raise the money I invest each month by 1% each month”.

    1. J. Money December 27, 2019 at 1:04 PM

      Each month – even better!! :) You’ll be at 50% in no time at that rate!

  19. Chickenwizard's DivBlog December 27, 2019 at 11:11 PM

    I love this list, especially #3. I pay my bills asap. I hate having any debt at all hanging over my head. Pay the bills before paying myself..
    This is how I kept my spending in check…

    I get paid every other week. The first thing I do is give my wife $400. She’s a stay at home mom and it covers groceries and most household spending. She’s good at budgeting that stuff.
    I then take $200 and transfer it to my Fidelity account for stock purchases.

    I take what is left and divide that by 14. I usually have about ($115 per day left) That’s my budget for the day. The leftover goes to savings. I deposit $ into my savings almost every day. I I have a bill over my daily limit, I wait a day or two.

    This year, I am switching it up. I have a goal of saving $16K to cover all expenses for 2021 (with 1500 buffer). I am transferring $615 on payday to savings. So now I will give my wife $400, $200 to stock, and the 615. I’ll be left with about $935. That’s $66 per day to live and pay bills. Doable.

    1. J. Money December 30, 2019 at 6:56 AM

      Love the new goal! Will you let me know how it’s going later in the year? Thanks for stopping by the blog :)