Reining in spending can help you pay down credit card debt. But financial psychologist Brad Klontz warns that pledging to go on a money diet could backfire.
"Nothing makes you crave a cheeseburger more than deciding to restrict your calories, and nothing makes you want to spend more than focusing on spending less," he says.
The biggest problem with a "spend less" resolution, Klontz says, is that it isn’t specific or measurable.
Smart solution: Get specific.
A specific goal provides a clear target, something to strive for. You could aim to cut spending by $500 per month or reduce monthly expenses by 15%.
Once the goal is set, you can start taking steps to achieve it, such as switching to a less expensive cell phone plan or taking lunch to work instead of ordering takeout.
There is another benefit to setting specific resolutions: You can measure your progress. Knowing that you set a goal and achieved it is a huge motivator for continued success.