One New Year's Resolution You Don't Have to Keep to Be a Winner


(NewsUSA) - Looking for a resolution that can literally pay off even if you wind up not keeping it? Think your finances.

That's right, unlike the gazillions of other New Year's pledges we make this time of year only to soon break -- can you spell D-I-E-T?-- simply vowing to handle fiscal matters better can have "a positive impact" on your bottom line.

That's one of the more intriguing findings from Fidelity Investments' just-released eighth annual "New Year Financial Resolutions Study," and it's based on stats like these comparing respondents who said they'd made financial resolutions at the start of 2016 to those who hadn't:

* Resolvers beat non-resolvers when it came to ending 2016 more debt-free than the previous year (45 percent vs. 34 percent).

* They also now feel more "financially secure" (45 percent vs. 34 percent).

* And they also feel more optimistic about their finances looking ahead to 2017 (52 percent vs. 37 percent).

And those who actually did follow through on their resolutions?

Sixty-six percent said they're now "in a better financial situation.

"The fact is, people who make resolutions on money matters tend to feel better about the state of their finances, which helps them stay engaged and make progress toward their goals," says Ken Hevert, Fidelity's senior vice president of retirement.

So what did the study find to be the top three financial resolutions for 2017?

Turns out Americans are remarkably consistent.

For the eighth straight year, saving more topped the list among those at least considering making a resolution (50 percent), followed by paying down or paying off debt (28 percent), and spending less (16 percent).

And while Americans were optimistic about 2017 -- Millennials being the most upbeat, with 87 percent of them believing they'll be better off financially -- those surveyed had some real concerns. Chief among them: the dreaded "unexpected expenses," which was Number One last year, too.

"Whether it's a new roof for your home or a medical emergency, the unexpected can throw your finances for a loop," says Hevert. "In fact, for those whose resolutions fell short in 2016, almost three-quarters said they were derailed by unforeseen expenses, so setting aside an emergency fund can create a buffer."

Which makes resources like Fidelity's new online "Three Financial Resolutions for 2017" especially worth reading. It includes a rather savvy tip on how people could find themselves with a $22,000 windfall if -- instead of paying the typical household's $43 a month in bank and credit card fees -- they switched to no-fee institutions and invested that money over 20 years at a hypothetical compound annual growth rate of 7 percent.

Hmmm. Not a bad addition to anyone's resolutions list -; only, in this instance, they'd have to follow through on it.